“The Whole Damn Place Is Going Down”
| Feb 20, 2013 12:03 pm
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Posted to: Higher Ed, Legal Writes
A 19-year-old woman threatened to use homemade napalm bombs and a shotgun to carry out a Newtown-style “suicidal” mass attack on Gateway Community College, according to a federal complaint.
The criminal complaint, released late Wednesday, details a series of disturbing text messages the woman allegedly sent to a friend—and then to an undercover FBI agent pretending to be the friend—between Feb. 4 and Feb. 16.
The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force investigated the case along with the New Haven and East Haven police. The woman was arrested Tuesday and appeared in federal court in Bridgeport Wednesday; she faces up to five years in jail and $250,000 in fines for the federal offense of perpetrating a criminal hoax. She also faces a series of state charges.
A raid on her East Haven home found none of the homemade napalm bombs or guns she threatened to use in an attack on Gateway, a school she does not attend. She told authorities she was just pretending to plan an attack, according to the complaint, which states she claimed to have been “seeking to be accepted by the people with whom she was exchanging text messages.”
She allegedly sought to enlist her friend in the attack, suggesting they were bulletproof vests “like [Adam] Lanza,” the perpetrator of the Newtown school massacre.
Among the text messages she allegedly sent:
• “Shooting things is one of the few ways I have fun.”
• “i’ve always wanted to shoot up a mall”
• “I’m killing myself though.”
•“If Im going to commit suicide might as well take people down with me who made me miserable”
• “The people the whole damn place is going down”
• “I was pissed when the sandy hook happened lol”
• “Cuz I wanted to be the next big one”
• “I want people dead” “not injured”
• “they will die”
• “When I die I won’t be miserable because I already have been living in hell here”
“I love power Ill have over people”
“Then be in the news after all over the Internet ad dumb ass people will be like ‘why did this happen’”
• “I want the whole place to just explode Imfao wouldn’t that be funny”
• “Ill shoot a cop”
• “I just made a bomb for us so we can set it off the day we plan this out” “A napalm one”
• “gasoline, styrafoam mix the styrafoam until it turns into a jelly fill a glass bottle with the napalm then code the rag in napalm put it in the bottle leave a piece of the rag hanging out then light when you want to throw it at something
• “there’s also a lightbulb bomb I make take the napalm then heat up the metal piece on the lightbulb so it’Il come off put the napalm in it have hot glue to reattach the metal piece screw it on then uften it’s turned on it covers the person in napalm and they die lol” “then they BURN!”
Following is an earlier version of this article, with details on her court appearance and comments from Gateway Community College:
Woman Arrested After Alleged Newtown-Style Mass-Shooting Threats Against Gateway
A 19-year-old woman appeared in federal court Wednesday on charges that she threatened to commit a Newtown-style “suicidal bombing and mass shooting” at Gateway Community College.
Local police arrested the woman Tuesday on charges related to the alleged threat. She was held overnight and appeared in U.S. District Court in Bridgeport Wednesday afternoon on federal charges related to the same alleged threat.
The woman made repeated threats via text messages that she intended to commit “a suicidal bombing and mass shooting” at Gateway Community College in downtown New Haven, a federal prosecutor told U.S. Magistrate Judge Holly Fitzsimmons in Bridgeport Wednesday afternoon.
The arrestee allegedly referenced the recent mass shootings in Newtown.
The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force investigated the threats along with New Haven and East Haven police.
The woman does not attend Gateway, according to a law-enforcement figure familiar with the case. Someone with whom she communicated brought the threats to the attention of law enforcement.
The woman posted a picture of herself on Facebook (shown above) holding a handgun and claimed she had weapons in her home.
A federal search warrant of her home cited probable cause to arrest her for attempting to damage and destroy with explosives an institution receiving federal financial assistance, among other charges.
The woman did not speak at her federal court appearance. The judge agreed to a government request to hold her without bail pending a detention hearing Friday, where it will be argued whether she is a flight risk or presents a danger to the community.
“These are very serious charges,” the judge said. “This is a felony.”
She faces up to five years in jail and up to $250,000 in fines if convicted.
The woman made an appearance earlier Wednesday afternoon in state Superior Court in West Haven on an unrelated threatening charge related to a West Haven arrest.
“I’m very grateful that once they had become aware of it, that the police chief of the city of New Haven as well the FBI worked very diligently ... to take the appropriate actions so that this did not become a problem,” said Gateway Community College President Dorsey Kendrick. “We don’t know anything about it. Very little information was given. The college will continue to provide a safe environment in which all faculty, staff and students will feel that we keep our focus on our business.”
Gateway spokeswoman Evelyn Gard noted that the college greatly increased security when it moved into its new downtown campus last summer. “There are cameras everywhere. You can’t get into the building without checking in and showing ID,” Gard said.
The college’s 2013-4 proposed budget request will contain a line item for monitoring online mentions of Gateway, for both marketing and security purposes, she said. The college spent $1.2 million on added security this year.
According to the state’s judicial database, East Haven police previously arrested the woman, who turns 20 Saturday, with criminal trespass, criminal mischief, and harassment. Those charges are pending.
Chief of Detectives Sgt. Al Vazquez was the point person for New Haven’s force in the investigation.
“The New Haven police department thanks the FBI for their important work in this investigation,” said Chief Dean Esserman.
Gateway released a statement at 3 p.m. Wednesday offering more of a chronology. It read in part:
“On Feb. 5, GCC President Dorsey L. Kendrick was contacted by New Haven Chief of Police Dean Esserman, who informed Kendrick that the FBI discovered that a woman posted threats against the college on her Facebook page. Chief Esserman and GCC security had been contacted by the FBI, and were told that there was no imminent danger as a result of the post, but an investigation was underway. The chief requested that Dr. Kendrick and GCC security keep the matter confidential until the investigation was complete. The president, Administrative Dean Lou D’Antonio, and security staff continued to monitor the situation with the New Haven Police Department until they were informed that the woman ..., who is not a Gateway student and has no apparent links to the college, had been taken into custody and booked on state and federal charges.
WTNH’s Erin Cox contributed reporting from court.
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posted by: rdeeds on February 20, 2013 12:17pm
As a current student who goes through security often, simply showing her ID at a distance to the security guards, I would feel a lot better if at least the entry ways were more secure. Sometimes I can just walk right on in.
posted by: anonymous on February 20, 2013 12:20pm
“There are cameras everywhere. You can’t get into the building without checking in and showing ID.”
Actually, there are no doors between the ID desk and the rest of the building.
But I’m comforted by the fact that a couple intruders armed with perfectly legal assault rifles will have to stop and show their IDs before they can walk directly into the main cafeteria. That will make it easier to identify the shooters after the mass shooting happens. (assuming they were old enough to even have an ID - any child can buy a working machine gun on Craigslist or from a gun show in cash, with no questions asked).
posted by: HhE on February 20, 2013 1:12pm
anonymous, I do wish you would get your facts and figures strait.
An assault rifle is by definition, a select fire weapon, firing a micro caliber or intermediate round. Thus, unless registered as an NFA weapon, and registered under the Connecticut Assault Weapons law, no assault rifle is legal in Connecticut.
All machine guns are full auto capable, and thus subject to the NFA. In order to transfer an NFA firearm, one must get approval from the chef law enforcement officer, pass a Federal background check, and pay a $200 tax.
Even as someone who does not own any gun, of any type, I know that.
Speaking as a non expert, who has talked with an expert, and has read The Gift of Fear, it is my understanding that no spree killing has ever happened without some warning. This warning may be hard to detect, or otherwise go unnoticed. I am relived that the warning was recognised (albeit fairly obvious) in this case.
posted by: Anderson Scooper on February 20, 2013 1:54pm
None too smart….
posted by: anonymous on February 20, 2013 2:19pm
HhE, not every weapon is purchased in Connecticut, and there are many ways that one might define these weapons, particularly when anyone can modify them at home.
posted by: MamaBear on February 20, 2013 2:57pm
Please tell me that is not a baby’s crib in the picture…
posted by: HhE on February 20, 2013 3:31pm
Good eyes MamaBear. I think you are right.
anonymous, the NGCA of 1968 bares interstate transfer of firearms without an FFL, except in the case of estates. “Assault weapon” is a legal classification, in the case of our state, is defined by statute. “Assault rifle” is a word defined by the militaries of the world. To redefine that to mean something else is to ignore establish practise, meaning, and history. To modify a semi automatic firearm to run full auto is a violation of the NFA of 1934, and the Gun Owners’ Protection Act of 1986.
That said, I am confident that anyone bent of being an active shooter is not concerned with such issues, nor with the criminalisation of murder. I also imagine they could shot out any lock, as well as video cameras.
posted by: Curious on February 20, 2013 3:36pm
Gateway has a cafeteria on street level on Church Street, and the wall at the street is just big panes of glass. All you’d have to do to cause mayhem is blast one of those panes with a shotgun and you’d be able to step right into the cafeteria unhindered by ID checks or other security.
posted by: Brutus2011 on February 20, 2013 3:50pm
I am probably going to get in hot water for this post.
I wonder why people are not asking why individuals who go, or threaten to go, “postal” get to that tragic point.
I in no way am condoning this kind of violence. I simply wonder why unresolved injustice is never talked about in the context of these kinds of public threats or actual violence.
After all, what is violence but a demonstration of power and in this context usually perpetrated by the powerless?
Who was that said, “If you want peace, work for justice,” or something to that effect.
posted by: MamaBear on February 20, 2013 4:10pm
@Curious… another helpful suggestion! Bad enough that people come up with bad ideas on their own, but let’s not add to the problem with what I hope was a poor try at sarcasm. Too many people are easily influenced. on another note…211 has resources for helplines/hotlines for all sorts of needs(mental health,housing, childcare,abuse,etc.) and I believe they are available 24 hours.
posted by: rdeeds on February 20, 2013 4:16pm
An irony being that some of us are there studying to be able to work in some form of public service!
posted by: streever on February 20, 2013 7:41pm
Can a child honestly buy a machine gun? I’m aware that some gun enthusiasts do modify semi-automatic weapons, but, is it really true that a child (how old?) can buy an actual honest to goodness working machine gun on craigslist easily?
I’ve never seen a machine gun for sale, although I absolutely am not in the market for it. While I don’t doubt that one can, with time and money, buy one, I do wonder at how easy you make it sound.
Why don’t more children buy machine guns? I remember being a kid. I would have LOVED to have a gun like the ones in GI Joe.
posted by: William Kurtz on February 20, 2013 8:59pm
It’s more or less customary when employing specialized jargon, abbreviations and terminology to a lay audience to explain clearly what those terms mean and why they matter. ‘Micro caliber’, ‘intermediate round’, ‘select fire’, NFA, NGCA . . . I imagine most of that is meaningless to lots of the people you are trying to convince of . . . whatever you’re trying to convince them of.
posted by: HhE on February 21, 2013 1:30am
micro caliber, a cartridge who bullet is 6mm or under, the most typical is the ubiquitous 5.56NATO.
intermediate cartridge, a cartridge with a bullet between 7mm and 8mm, but shorter in length and of less power high power cartridges it superseded. While the most famous is probably 7.62x39, the original was the 8mmKurtz.
NFA National Firearms Act of 1934, its provisions include restrictions on machine guns, muzzle cans, and short barrelled rifles and shotguns.
GCA Gun Control Act of 1968, put an end to mail order guns.
Select fire, a firearm that can fire one round per pull of the trigger, or fire a burst or full auto (multiple rounds) per pull of the trigger.
I am not trying to convince anyone of anything, save that anonymous tends to make claims about guns that are altogether untrue, or presents facts that are true, but mislead. I believe that this in turn undermines arguments that he has made that have merit.
As a rule, trying to convince anyone to change their views on guns and gun control is futile. It is probably the most polarized issue in America, and expressing a position is effectively turning off half of ones audience, and nothing more.
Whatever I think about this topic is not important, but I do wish both sides would tell the truth.
steever, I believe, but do not know, that if one had enough money, and if one knew the right person, and if one were willing to risk serious federal time, one could get full auto capable firearm. (None of these three elements is true in my case.) I believe anon’s post is far more rhetoric than credible threat assessment.
Not me brutus2011. I too deplore violence in the work place, school, and elsewhere. However, in a world where courts are more worried about meeting the needs of lawyers than justice, stock-brokerage firms that run day trading programs without telling people in no uncertain terms that what they are doing is gambling, and other cases where lives are destroyed, this sort of crime will most likely flourish.
One thing we do know, is that publicity tends to encourage and sanction this sort of behavior in the sick sort of mind that thinks this is an appropriate response—as we are seeing here. This is why I was so distressed by the amount of media coverage of Sandy Hook.
posted by: Bumpercar on February 21, 2013 4:41am
Brutus—Most mass murderers are not victims of social injustice. The shooters in Newtown, Aurora, Columbine were not poor kids. They were just crazy and they had access to weapons that fire a lot of bullets quickly.
posted by: Brutus2011 on February 21, 2013 10:56am
While not disputing your point, I feel compelled to point out that we human beings lie about others to cover our own rears with a frequency that would probably amaze most. What this does is “murder” another’s reputation falsely. This can have disastrous consequences for a person’s, and their family,life and ability to earn a living. All because of the injustice of a lie believed by someone with power to change a life through the stroke of a pen or the utterance of a directive. Or, as hHe pointed out, by knowingly perpetrating a fraud on a unsuspecting or gullible public.
Quite frankly, I am surprised that the hidden unjust actions of the DeStefano-Mayo education cartel has not spawned significant public violence—individually and collectively.
And now these perpetrators of injustice are looking for adulation and respect for long careers where the people they hurt far outnumber the people they helped.
posted by: anonymous on February 21, 2013 5:17pm
Although it would not be particularly easy for a child to get their hands on a dangerous weapon, it is not inconceivable given the millions of such weapons available in the USA and the fact that roughly 10-15% of gun killings are committed by children. That said, this is all a distraction from the fact that just about anyone can buy a gun, walk in with or without their ID, and start shooting up the place in a manner similar to the other 50 recent mass shootings and the 2,000 other Americans who have been shot to death since Newtown happened.
posted by: streever on February 21, 2013 5:43pm
It is a distraction: particularly you positing it in the first place ;-) I had never even thought of it until then.
If children don’t actually have easy access to buy machine guns, I’d love to see everyone focus on the important issue of improving gun regulations and making it less likely that someone can walk into a building and start shooting each other.