Story Summary

Phoned Threats Made in San Gabriel Valley

Multiple schools and other facilities were locked down then found to be safe after an anonymous male caller made threats in calls to police in September 2013.

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Police are searching for the caller who phoned in a bomb threat to a Temple City school Friday morning, the latest in a string of threats regarding explosives across the San Gabriel Valley.

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LASD deputies evacuated and searched Temple City High School after receiving a phoned-in bomb threat.

At 6:40 a.m., an anonymous 911 caller claimed that multiple bombs had been placed inside Temple City High School, which had also been subject to a false threat earlier the week.

The threat prompted a rapid response from law enforcement officials, who searched school grounds with explosive-sniffing dogs and blocked traffic on surrounding streets, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department stated in a news release Friday.

Several staff members and students had arrived at school at the time of the threat and were quickly evacuated, according to Lt. Loy McBride of the sheriff’s Temple Station.

“Because school hadn’t started yet, it was easier for us to secure the area,” McBride said.

Temple City Unified School District Superintendent Chelsea Kang-Smith canceled the day’s classes at Temple City High School as a safety precaution, sheriff’s Temple Station announced on Twitter.

“We want to make sure the safety of our students and our staff comes first,” Kang-Smith told the Los Angeles Times. “It is always our belief that safety is that important.”

After an extensive search, no explosives were found at the school, a sheriff’s department tweet stated later Friday morning.

Friday’s bomb threat is the third in a week for schools in Temple City. Temple City High was the subject of a threat late Tuesday night that also turned out to be false.

Then, on Wednesday, Longden Elementary School was the target of a similar threat. According to the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, between 300 and 400 young students were inside Longden at the time, and all were forced to evacuate to a nearby middle school.

McBride declined to comment on the details of the sheriff’s department’s investigation into the threats, but confirmed that officials were looking into a possible link between the three calls.

“We’re following every lead, every aspect. Our detective division is using every resource to find out who this person, or persons, are,” Lt. McBride said.

Earlier this month, a Monrovia man was charged with making threats involving multiple calls to police in which he allegedly claimed to have an AK-47 rifle at various locations across the San Gabriel Valley, including schools, medical facilities and a mall.

Anyone with information regarding Friday’s bomb threat at Temple City High School was asked to call Temple Station detectives at 626-285-7171. Anonymous tips may be submitted by calling 800-222-8477 (TIPS), texting “TIPLA” plus your tip to 274637 (CRIMES) or using the website lacrimestoppers.org.

A Monrovia man whom authorities said had a history of making false bomb threats was charged Thursday with a series of threatening phone calls that prompted lockdowns at San Gabriel Valley schools, hospitals and a mall.

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Gerardo Cortez is pictured in a Facebook photo.

Gerardo Cortez, 26, allegedly called police to say he would shoot people with an AK-47 assault rifle in a series of threats last week, authorities said.

Cortez was charged with six felony counts of making criminal threats and five counts of false report of an emergency, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

He was expected to be arraigned Thursday afternoon the West Covina branch of Los Angeles Superior Court. Prosecutors planned to ask for bail to be set at $300,000.

Cortez — who has a prior conviction for a false bomb threat, according to the DA’s office — was arrested at his home Tuesday after a five-agency joint investigation.

“The nature of these criminal threats brought tremendous fear to students, faculty, parents, patients, and the community,” stated a news release issued Tuesday on behalf of the five agencies involved. “It also drew a significant amount of policing resources away from other legitimate purposes.”

The threats prompted lockdowns and evacuations at schools in Monrovia, Arcadia and Duarte and at medical facilities in several cities in the area. Santa Anita Mall in Arcadia was also locked down following a phoned threat.

The FBI joined the investigation last week because the threats spanned several jurisdictions, a bureau spokeswoman told the Los Angeles Times.

A Monrovia man was in custody Wednesday on suspicion of calling police to say he would shoot people with an AK-47 assault rifle in a series of phoned threats made against San Gabriel Valley schools, a hospital and a shopping mall last week, authorities said.

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A man identified by police as Gerardo Cortez is seen in a Facebook photo.

Gerardo Cortez, 26, was booked on five felony counts of making criminal threats and five counts of false report of an emergency, authorities said.

He was being held Wednesday at the Monrovia Police Department’s jail following his 4 p.m. Tuesday arrest at his home in Monrovia.

Cortez’s bail was initially set at $250,000. He was expected to appear in Pasadena Superior Court on Thursday.

Monrovia police planned to present the case — the result of a five-agency investigation that involved the FBI — to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

“The nature of these criminal threats brought tremendous fear to students, faculty, parents, patients, and the community,” stated a 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 searched classroom by classroom.

Student Kasie Herring said she did “homework and stuff” and was “panicking” during the four-hour lockdown.

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Los Angeles County sheriff’s patrol cars are shown at Duarte High School last week after a threat was made against the school.

Another student, Johnnesha Williams, said her parents were “scared” during the incident. “They were crying,” she said. “They wanted me to come home,” which she was initially unable to do while a shelter-in-place order was in effect.

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.

A motive in the case was not immediately known, authorities said.

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.

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Schools in Duarte were on lockdown Sept. 10 in a phoned threat. A suspect was arrested Tuesday after a variety of threats to San Gabriel Valley sites.

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.

A day after a hospital in West Covina and a school in Monrovia were locked down due to phoned threats to police, another school in the San Gabriel Valley went into lockdown in a similar situation Tuesday.

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File photo of crime scene tape (credit: Flickr/Tex Texin)

Duarte High School and neighboring Northview Intermediate School in Duarte were placed on lockdown at 2 p.m., according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

An anonymous male had called the sheriff’s Duarte substation and threatened to shoot students at the high school, a news release from the sheriff’s department stated.

“Sheriff’s deputies immediately went on campus searching and was no indication students were in danger,” the release stated.

The grounds and classrooms of the two schools were swept by deputies and “no suspicious person were scene,” according to the sheriff’s department.

Investigators will be working with the Monrovia and Covina police departments to determine if there’s a link between Tuesday’s incident and two that occurred on Monday, Sgt. Sherif Morsi of the sheriff’s Temple Station said.

“We have officers looking into it,” Morsi said.

On Monday, Covina police received a call just before 1 p.m. from a man who said he had an AK-47 assault rifle at “Citrus Medical Center,” which does not correspond to the name of a hospital in the region. Citrus Valley Health Partners, however, runs several hospitals in the San Gabriel Valley.

The West Covina Police Department responded to Queen of the Valley Hospital, which was placed on voluntary lockdown. No gunman was found and the facility reopened at 3 p.m., police said Monday. Lockdowns were also in effect at the health group’s facilities in Covina and Glendora, the San Gabriel Valley Tribune reported.

Then, at about 2 p.m. Monday, the Monrovia Police Department received a similar call from a man who said he had an AK-47 at Santa Fe Middle School.

Similarly, that school was locked down for nearly three hours while the campus was searched and students were released classroom-by-classroom to their waiting parents.

Sgt. Tom Harris told the Tribune newspaper that the calls were likely fake.

“I’m 90 percent sure it’s a hoax,” Harris said, according to the paper. “We’ve been getting a lot of them.”

A Monrovia middle school was on lockdown Monday afternoon after a man called police and said he was on campus with a firearm, authorities said.

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Parents wait for word of their children outside Santa Fe Middle School on Monday. (credit: Mariam Yaralyan)

A male caller phoned the Monrovia Police Department at about 2 p.m., saying he was on the campus of Santa Fe Middle School with an AK-47 assault rifle, Lt. Michael Lee said.

The school, at Duarte and Peck roads, was placed on lockdown and classrooms were cleared one by one, Lee said.

No gunman was found.

“It would appear that the threat was not credible,” Lee said.

Also on Monday afternoon, police in nearby West Covina had received an anonymous call from a man who said he had an AK-47 at “Citrus Medical Center,” which does not correspond to the name of a hospital in the region.

The West Covina Police Department responded to Queen of the Valley Hospital, which was placed on voluntary lockdown. No gunman was found and the facility reopened at 3 p.m., police said.

At Santa Fe Middle School, the last of the students was moved off campus just before 5 p.m., Lee said.

A witness on scene at about 3 p.m. described multiple patrol cars and an armored SWAT vehicle in the area surrounding the school. Paramedics and ambulances were also on scene, as were fire engines, the witness told KTLA.

Parents and school buses were nearby, being held away from the campus by police.

A police officer was directing traffic away from Duarte Road, a witness said.

Santa Fe Middle School had about 640 students in grades six through eight in the 2012-13 school year, according to state records.

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