The Los Angeles Criminal Law Blog

Pomona Man Makes Newtown Copycat Threats on Facebook

After nearly every tragedy, there is some idiot, seeking notoriety, that makes copycat threats. After James Holmes' act of mass murder in Aurora, Colorado, a twerp on Twitter made threats against a New York theatre where Mike Tyson was set to perform. Now, after 20-year-old Adam Lanza committed his disgusting spree killings in Newtown, Connecticut, an idiot in the Los Angeles area allegedly made threats on Facebook about shooting up local schools, reports The Associated Press.

The alleged Facebooking fool is Kyle Bangayan, 24, of Pomona, who was arrested on Sunday for making criminal threats. He is being held on $500,000 bail. Nine firearms were seized from the site of his arrest, his father's east Hollywood residence. His father gave police and FBI agents permission to search the home. There is no indication yet whether the firearms were owned legally and to whom they were registered. We don't even know if Bangayan had access to the guns.

What we do know is that if he is convicted of making criminal threats, he faces up to a year in jail. In order to be convicted, the threat must be directed at a person in a reasonable state of fear, the threat must be specific and unequivocal, and the threat can be communicated verbally, in writing, or electronically. Whether or not the person actually intended to carry out the threatened action is irrelevant; what matters is the credibility of the threat.

In this case, and in the aftermath of the Newtown murders, an online threat to murder local school children would certainly put local officials, teachers, students, and parents into a reasonable state of fear. According to the Los Angeles Times, the threat did not mention specific schools but did cite Newtown and specifically mentioned “kindergarten and elementary school kids.” Though the news accounts are of course second-hand, it certainly sounds specific and unequivocal.

Bangayan isn’t the only idiot to make copycat threats either. According to the AP, a frustrated 18-year-old was arrested in Ohio after writing on Facebook that all of the posts about the Connecticut shooting made him want to shoot kids himself. Another teen was arrested in Tennessee, and remains in jail, after someone posted a message on his account stating that he felt like going on a rampage after the Newtown killings.

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