The foursome pulled up to a long-vacant house in St. Paul's North End neighborhood on Thursday morning, jackknifing a large white van onto the boulevard.

Things got more worrisome when some of them started running through a yard, taking cover behind a vehicle and pointing a gun.

Someone called police to the 300 block of Maryland Avenue, near the corner of Farrington Street, about 11 a.m. for a crash involving a man with a gun.

Officers arrived and saw an armed man running, said Sgt. Paul Paulos, a police spokesman.

It wasn't until after about nine squad cars screeched into the area and officers had arrested three men and a woman that they learned the truth -- the group was filming a low-budget movie.

"It did create a lot of fear in the neighborhood," Paulos said.

No camera was seen when officers arrived, but a small 35-millimeter camera was later found.

Police recovered three guns: a BB gun, an Airsoft gun and a replica gun. Paulos said that none of them carried the orange markings of a toy gun and that the situation could easily have turned dangerous.

"This could have been a very deadly scene," he said.

All four were booked at the Ramsey County jail on charges of terroristic threats. Charges had not been filed as of Friday.

Neighbors said that movies had been filmed before in the front yard the foursome used. Some were upset with the group's actions.

"I thought it was a bunch of stupidity," said Rosemarie Labrasseur, who owns Nu Yu Hair Salon and witnessed the incident. "Anytime you see a bunch of squad cars, it's negative publicity for the area."

The arrests occurred just one building down from Labrasseur's hair salon on the north side of Maryland.

Marcia Dunaski was home alone across the street when the commotion alarmed her.

"It was bizarre," said Duna-ski, who learned that the incident involved a movie only when a reporter told her. "My first instinct was lock the door. I'm not taking any chances."

Kenneth Shaw, who lives across the street, said he knows some of the filmmakers, who he said have filmed small movies and music videos in the yard and would never intend to harm anyone. Three of the them are from the metro area.

Artists and filmmakers planning to use public space for projects should obtain the proper city permits so authorities and area residents can be alerted, Paulos said. This group did not have permission to film on the street, sidewalk or boulevard, he said.

"Please contact the local city and find out what the requirements are and get the proper permits so we can avoid a tragic situation," Paulos said.

Chao Xiong • 612-270-4708 Twitter: @ChaoStrib