A possible mass shooting was thwarted when Long Beach police arrested a disgruntled Marriott employee who had access to weapons and allegedly told a coworker he planned to shoot everyone he saw at his workplace, the city’s police chief said Wednesday.
Rodolfo Montoya, 37, was arrested without incident at his home in Huntington Beach on Tuesday, according to Long Beach Police Department Chief Robert Luna.
Investigators searched the home and seized multiple firearms, including an assault rifle, hundreds of rounds of ammunition and high-capacity magazines, Luna told reporters at a news conference where the arrest was announced.
“I believe the Police Department has worked to avert what could have been a real tragedy in this community,” Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia said.
The investigation began when a worker contacted authorities on Monday evening to alert them to a verbal threat of violence against the Long Beach Marriott, according to police.
Montoya was employed as a cook at the hotel, which is located in the 4700 block of Airport Plaza. Investigators believe he was upset over some recent workplace activity having to do with human resources.
In expressing his anger to the coworker, Montoya allegedly detailed a plot where he would shoot fellow employees and guests coming into the hotel, according to the police chief. He also described the tools he would use to carry out the plot.
“Suspect Montoya had clear plans, intent and the means to carry out an act of violence that may have resulted in a mass casualty incident,” Luna said.
But, according to the chief, the possible plan was thwarted when the coworker contacted police, prompting an investigation that led to a search warrant and an arrest.
Luna credited the employee’s tip with potentially saving lives and reminded the public that coming forward with information is the only way those types of incidents can be reported.
“We’ve seen countless of acts of senseless violence throughout the country in the last several months,” he said. “We want to remind everyone that if you see, hear or read about any threats or suspicious activity, I believe that it is your obligation to report that to the police.”
Investigators are looking into how Montoya obtained the cache of firearms and ammunition.
He has no known criminal record, but some of the firearms may been illegal to possess in California, as were the high-capacity magazines confiscated from the suspect’s residence, according to Luna.
Montoya was being interviewed by detectives on Wednesday afternoon, the police chief added.
He was booked on suspicion of manufacturing and distributing assault weapons, possession of an assault weapon and making criminal threats, according to a police news release.
Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call police at 562-435-6711. Anonymous tips can also be left by dialing 1-800-222-8477, texting TIPLA plus your tip to 274637, or going to the website http://www.lacrimestoppers.org.