Man Arrested in Investigation of Threats to La Raza Student Association Members
Long Beach State University President Jane Close Conoley today issued the following statement regarding the police investigation into threats posted to Facebook pages.
Dear Beach Community:
I am pleased to announce an arrest has been made in the case in which threats were made against members of our La Raza Student Association in September.
The arrest comes after a complex and tireless investigation by our University Police Department. The individual in custody is expected to face charges that include a hate crime enhancement; the district attorney’s office is handling prosecution of the case.
After police contacted the person of interest in the case, he was placed under surveillance. Today, as he was taken into custody, members of La Raza Student Association were informed of the arrest and charges.
I want to personally thank Chief Fernando Solorzano and his University Police Department colleagues for the time and effort they devoted to this case. It is because of their professionalism and diligence that we close a chapter in this ugly story and are able to continue building trust and strengthening lines of communication.
As I have said before, We Are One Beach. Our strength is in true partnership and mutual concern for every member of our community. No one and no group, insider or outsider, will succeed in undermining our journey toward inclusive excellence. Free speech – even speech that we consider abhorrent – is protected by our Constitution. Threats of violence, however, are not. When that type of hatred rears its ugly head, we not only repeat our rejection of it but we also look to law enforcement for intervention and protection on behalf of our community. Today, I am proud to say that our University Police Department did just that.
Jane Close Conoley, Ph.D.
President, Long Beach State University
Long Beach State University Police Chief Fernando Solorzano today issued the following statement regarding the police investigation into threats posted to Facebook pages.
Dear Beach Community:
As President Conoley announced, the University Police Department has arrested a man on suspicion of making cyber-threats against members of our La Raza Student Association.
Christopher Cook, 40, of Fountain Valley, Calif., was taken into custody without incident today after complex and methodical investigation that began in September. The case has been turned over to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office for prosecution, and Cook is expected to face several charges along with a hate crime enhancement.
I would like to thank the men and women of the University Police Department for their dedication to this investigation, as well as their handling other daily responsibilities. We are here to serve the interests of the campus community, which includes safeguarding your rights as well as your safety. We made progress in this case because of the information and assistance from the victims and other members of our campus. In short, community policing – which depends on strong ties between the department and campus community – helped successfully resolve this situation.
The University Police Department stands with the entire Long Beach State community in the goal of inclusive excellence. We Are One Beach.
Chief, University Police Department
California State University Long Beach Police Investigation Into Threats Posted to Facebook Pages of the La Raza Student Association
A member of California State University Long Beach La Raza Student Association discovered death threats posted to the group’s Facebook page the weekend of Sept. 16. The student reported the threat to the University Police Department and a cyber-crime investigation was launched.
Response from President Jane Close Conoley
Long Beach State President Jane Close Conoley issued a campus-wide email Sept. 20 that informed all students, faculty and staff that some members of the campus community had received violent threats the weekend before. The email said the leadership of the La Raza Student Association had been threatened online; it also pointed out that in prior months, Muslim and undocumented students had been victimized. She told the campus community that the University Police Department would aggressively investigate the threats to protect campus security.
Conoley also stated, “While one of the great strengths of our democracy is that free speech – which includes ‘hate speech’ – is protected under the 1st Amendment, direct and credible threats of violence are not tolerated.”
University Police Department investigation
The University Police Department serves as the lead law enforcement agency in this case. The department is headed by Chief of Police Fernando Solorzano. At the beginning of the investigation, officers confronted the man they believed was behind the Facebook post. At that time, he denied involvement in the matter. In the course of the investigation, police discovered the person of interest owned firearms. They placed that same man under surveillance. A warrant was issued for his arrest. He was arrested by University Police Department officials on November 21 on suspicion of 5 counts of felony criminal threats, 422 Penal Code, with a hate crime enhancement. University Police transported him to Long Beach City Jail where he was booked.
To read full statements from Conoley and Solorzano:
To report a hate crime involving the campus community, please contact the University Police Department:
For information relating to prosecution of the case:
Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, Long Beach Branch