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UPDATE: Man arrested for allegedly threatening to murder children

Posted: September 18, 2012 10:31 a.m.
Updated: September 18, 2012 6:55 p.m.

A Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy is stationed at Arroyo Seco Junior High School in Saugus on Tuesday.

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Friends of a Valencia High School grad arrested for allegedly making online threats to murder children said Tuesday they were shocked, not only at news of his arrest but that guns were seized from his home.

Eric Ting Yee, 21, a class of 2008 Valencia graduate who identifies himself as a Yale University student, was charged Monday with felony criminal threats and was being held on $1 million bail, according to the booking log released Tuesday by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

A Valencia resident and data analyst, Yee is accused of posting comments on an ESPN chat room in which he allegedly said he was watching kids and wouldn’t mind killing them. Yee lives with his parents at a home overlooking Arroyo Seco Junior High School and Santa Clarita Elementary School.

He was held behind bars in Santa Clarita on Tuesday as officials at the two schools near his home assured parents everything was safe.

Several guns were found Monday at the man’s home on Edenton Place.

“He was definitely top of the class — I mean the kid went to Yale,” said a Valencia grad identified as one of Yee’s 202 Facebook friends.

“He kept to himself. But he never struck me as someone associated with violence.

“This was a shock,” said the friend, who knew Yee throughout high school and who asked not to be identified.
“But this is extra tough to believe there were firearms in his house,” the friend said. “I would never, ever have thought, with any shred of a thought, that there would be firearms in his house.”

Handguns were among the firearms seized Monday afternoon by Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s deputies, said Sgt. Darren Harris.

The threatening posts were made last Thursday in a reader response section to an online ESPN story. The story dealt with new Nike sneakers named after LeBron James that cost $270 a pair, ESPN spokesman Mike Soltys said Tuesday.

Some of the nearly 3,000 reader comments on the story talked about children possibly getting killed over the sneakers because of how expensive they are.

“We aggressively monitor the (online) boards,” Soltys said, “and whenever a threat comes in we report it to the local authorities.

“On Thursday, in response to a story on Lebron’s new shoes, we flagged one of the comments and then alerted the authorities in Bristol who then, in turn, contacted police out there.”

Police in Bristol, Conn., where ESPN is headquartered, were notified the same day, and they linked the posting to the man’s home in the Santa Clarita Valley.

Sheriff’s investigators said they were contacted Sunday and began surveillance on the man’s home until a search warrant was obtained.

The online post on ESPN said a shooting would be like the one in Auora, Colo., in July. Twelve people were killed and 58 were injured in the theater shooting by a well-armed man.

Officials at two local schools situated near the suspect’s home assured parents no students were at risk, classes were under way normally and the only suspect in the case was in custody.

Capt. Paul Becker was in touch with officials at both Arroyo Seco and Santa Clarita Elementary on Tuesday assuring them the suspect was in custody.

“It is business as usual at Arroyo Seco,” Pinsker said. “We do have an extra deputy posted outside just to assure parents.”

At least three children didn’t attend class after their parents were notified by the school about the arrest, said Santa Clarita Principal Dianne Saunders.

“As always, safety is our first priority and we are working closely with police to ensure our kids remain safe,” Saunders said. “We are thankful that police departments are working together, and without the information from Bristol, maybe this wouldn’t have been able to be stopped.”

One 5-year-old student at Santa Clarita Elementary told The Signal she was upset because she “didn’t get to go out at recess.”

Authorities didn’t disclose how serious the threat was, but they were looking to see if the suspect had made similar posts on the Internet.

“We take all these kinds of threats serious, especially with the climate of other shootings around the nation over the past year,” Low said.

Yee — 5-foot-11, 185 pounds — was born in Los Angeles in 1990 and grew up in Alhambra.

He speaks Mandarin Chinese and is described by at least one friend contacted by The Signal as a “smart guy” who is “computer savvy.”

In 1993, he and his family moved into the two-story house on Edenton Place.

Occupants at the home refused to talk about the incident Tuesday when contacted by phone.

Most of the friends he lists on Facebook attend Yale, and almost all are affiliated with some institution of higher learning.

On his list of favorite movies are “Fight Club,” “Requiem for a Dream” and the politically-charged film starring Ed Norton, “American History X.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

jholt@the-signal.com
661-287-5527

 

 

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