A 26-year-old Monrovia man has been arrested on suspicion of calling police to say he would shoot people with an assault rifle in a series of phoned threats made against San Gabriel Valley schools, malls and hospitals last week, authorities said Tuesday.
The suspect, Gerardo Cortez, 26, had been booked on five felony counts of making criminal threats and five counts of false report of an emergency, authorities said in a news release.
Cortez was arrested 4 p.m. Tuesday at his home in Monrovia, and investigators were serving a search warrant at the home.
The Monrovia Police Department planned to present the case to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, the news release stated.
Cortez’s bail was initially set at $250,000 and he was expected to appear in court on Thursday.
A joint announcement about the arrest was expected to be made at 6 p.m. by police from departments in Arcadia, Covina and Monrovia, and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the FBI.
“The nature of these criminal threats brought tremendous fear to students, faculty, parents, patients, and the community,” stated the news release issued on behalf of the five agencies involved. “It also drew a significant amount of policing resources away from other legitimate purposes.”
One of the first instances was a threat made to Monrovia police against Santa Fe Middle School on Sept. 9, when an anonymous male caller told police he was on campus with a AK-47 assault rifle. No threat was found after the school was locked down and students were escorted off campus as police search classroom by classroom.
Earlier that day, threats had been made against a medical center that prompted lockdowns at several San Gabriel Valley facilities.
And on Sept. 10, two neighboring Duarte schools were locked down after a phone threat that also turned out to be false. Earlier that day, Santa Anita Mall in Arcadia had been locked down following a similar threat.
Arcadia High School was threatened and locked down on Sept. 12.
The FBI joined the investigation last week because the threats spanned several jurisdictions, a bureau spokeswoman told the Los Angeles Times.
Check back for updates on this developing story.