A 21-year-old Loyola Marymount University (LMU) student was arrested by Los Angeles police Saturday, December 8th, in connection with an online threat of a deadly shooting on one of the main stretches of the LMU campus, police said.
Officers from the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) Major Crimes Division arrested Carlos Huerta, a senior at LMU, at his on-campus apartment at 10:15 p.m. on suspicion of posting criminal threats on Juicycampus.com, an anonymous blog primarily used by college students, police said.
Huerta is allegedly linked to the threat, which said he would “shoot and kill as many people as possible on campus before being incapacitated or killed by the police,” authorities said.
The threat did not give a specific time for the shooting but targeted the “alumni mall,” a main stretch of the campus in front of the Sacred Heart Chapel, said LAPD Deputy Chief Michael Downing, head of the Counterterrorism and Criminal Intelligence Bureau.
“LMU’s [Department of] Public Safety took the threat extremely seriously,” said Christine Nangle, LMU assistant director of communications and media, who noted that the posting came just days before finals began. “It was a huge concern.”
A blog viewer initially found the threat and alerted LMU public safety officials, who contacted the LAPD in the morning. Working with the LMU Department of Public Safety, LAPD major crimes investigators and the Computer Crimes Unit were able to trace the threat to a computer registered to Huerta, Downing said.
“These kinds of things are not anonymous and we can find the people who did it,” Downing said.
When receiving such a threat to a college campus, police take it extremely seriously, said Downing, who added that “time is of the essence” in locating a suspect.
“We pull out all the stops and dedicate a huge number of resources,” Downing said of the police response to an online threat. “We work around the clock until we find out who did it.”
In response to the blog posting, additional officers from LMU public safety and the LAPD were called to the campus and school officials secured all of the entrances as a precaution, Nangle said. Access to the campus was restricted to those who had business at the school, she said.
LMU students, faculty and staff were notified of the threat through the “call-all system,” which sends an alert via cell phone, text or e-mail messages, Nangle said.
Police determined that there was never an indication that the threat to the school was valid and there is no ongoing threat there, Downing said.
“We don’t believe he had the operational capability to pull it off,” Downing said of the suspect.
Police were able to locate the suspect and make an arrest less than 12 hours after the threat was first discovered, Nangle noted. No campus events were cancelled as a result of the incident.
The LMU incident was the second criminal threat investigation by the LAPD in less than a week. An online shooting threat targeted The Grove shopping center in Los Angeles December 6th, but did not give a specific time of day.
Police traced the threat to a computer in Melbourne, Australia, where a 20-year-old man was arrested in connection with the incident. Other than similar wording, there was no connection between the Melbourne threat and the one for LMU, Downing said.
Huerta was released from custody after posting $100,000 bail and, although he was arrested on suspicion of posting criminal threats, he has not been charged by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons said. He is expected to appear in court in early January. The student has been suspended from classes by LMU pending further investigation, according to university officials.