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.