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Internet-Based Threat Against The Grove Results in Arrest

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.


Well how do you like that? While we were just going to sleep, the LAPD's Major Crimes Division were still staying awake and were "on it", working to track down the source of the "terrorist threat" that had been made against The Grove Shopping Mall in Los Angeles-which turned out to have been posted by someone using a computer located somewhere in the city of Australia. Being able to swiftly contact and communicate with law enforcement departments half-way around the world-comes in handy when these types of threats are trans-national. Even though the person responsible for posting the threat was located, identified and eventually arrested by Australian police for "creating a false belief", here in the United States he would probably have been charged for "making terrorist threats", whether he had intended to follow through with his threat, or not.
The problem is, that too many of these "crying wolf" incidents could eventually lull people into eventuallly disregarding any reports or warnings of actual credible threats, that could be made in the future, thus letting their guard down and writing off the threat as just another prank, or "false alarm", and not taking or heeding the precautions needed. Fortunately, in this case-everything turned out alright, except for the unnecessary costs incurred to law enforcement departments, by this person's irresponsible actions.
If this threat had been indeed credible, with the intent and capacity to carry it out and cause major harm to the public, the perpetrator's plans would have been thwarted by this law enforcement networking that was used in time, hopefully, to prevent a major catastrophe. I hope that through this incident, the skeptics and occasional cynics that have underestimated and exhibited condescending comments and attitudes regarding the validity and credibility of the LAPD's Counter-Terrorism Department, realize what a valuable role that department plays in the protection of our public safety, especially at a crucial moment, when our security and well-being are at risk.

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