Los Angeles: On December 5, 2007, the Los Angeles Police Department received information of a specific threat against The Grove shopping center in West Los Angeles.
The threat, which was posted on the Internet, stated that a shooting attack would occur at The Grove on December 6, 2007. No specific time was mentioned. Detectives from the LAPD’s Major Crimes Division and Computer Crimes Unit immediately began investigating the threat in coordination with highly cooperative private security personnel at The Grove.
Within hours, Major Crimes Division detectives – utilizing their skills and law enforcement relationships around the world – tracked the Internet Provider (IP) address to the City of Melbourne in the state of Victoria, Australia.
The investigators contacted the Western Australia Police Force, which identified the location of the computer that was allegedly used to post the threat. The case was then referred to the Victoria Police Force. Based on the information provided by the LAPD detectives, the Victoria Police Force secured and executed a search warrant and detained Jarrad Willis, 20, of Melbourne.
Evidence obtained by the Victoria Police Force as part of their investigation revealed sufficient evidence to implicate Willis as the person who posted the threat against The Grove on the Internet blog. The suspect was charged with the criminal offense of “Creating A False Belief,” a violation of Australian Law. Additional charges related to computer crimes in Australia are likely to be filed.
“In short order, it became very apparent that this suspect did not have any operational capability to carry out his threat. There was never any real threat to The Grove and there is no ongoing threat,” said Michael Downing, Deputy Chief of the LAPD’s Counter-Terrorism and Criminal Intelligence Bureau.
The unfortunate history of numerous other acts, including the recent mall shooting in Omaha, Nebraska, has shown us that threats of violence at public venues must be addressed with a decisive police response to ensure public safety.
The Los Angeles Police Department incurred more than $100,000 in personnel costs, in both investigative and tactical deployments, during the course of this investigation. In accordance with Australian law, restitution is an element of the prosecution of this suspect.
For more information, please contact Deputy Chief Michael Downing at 213-485-3211. He will be available for one-on-one interviews at Parker Center between 4:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.