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UPDATE: Weapons charges filed against son, father in child threat case

Adds comments from defense attorney, Yale spokesman

Posted: September 19, 2012 5:32 p.m.
Updated: September 19, 2012 6:49 p.m.

Eric Yee, 21, enters the court room at his arraignment hearing at San Fernando Courthouse in San Fernando on Wednesday.

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A 21-year-old Valencia High School graduate was charged Wednesday with felony possession of an illegal weapon after his arrest for sending “suspicious emails to an ESPN website.”

Eric Ting Yee, 21, whose arrest made national news this week on claims he posted threats to murder children, appeared in San Fernando Superior Court late Wednesday afternoon and was ordered to return to court next month on the weapons charge.

His bail was reduced from $1 million, set at the time of his arrest, to $100,000, a court official told The Signal. He remained in custody.

No charges of criminal threats were filed. The District Attorney’s office referred to Yee’s online comments Wednesday as “suspicious emails,” not as threats.

Yee’s father, Roger Manfoo Yee, 62, was also charged Wednesday with felony possession of an illegal weapon, said District Attorney’s office spokeswoman Jane Robison.

Although named in the same criminal complaint as his son, the elder Yee was not arrested and did not appear in court.

The weapons charges stem from the seizure Monday of an H&K M-94 assault rifle confiscated by Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station deputies during a search of the Yee family home on Edenton Place, near Seco Canyon Road. Other guns, including two handguns, were also found at the Valencia home.

Yee, was arrested late Monday afternoon. On Tuesday, two schools overlooked by the Yees’ backyard kept students inside and added security as parents expressed concern about their children’s safety.

The alarm was raised over news reports that Yee had posted comments in an ESPN chat room in which he allegedly said he was watching kids and wouldn’t mind killing them.

Police in Bristol, Conn., where ESPN is headquartered, were notified Thursday of the posts and linked them to the man’s home in the Santa Clarita Valley.

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

Yee has identified himself as a Yale University student, but a university spokesman told the Yale student newspaper that he is not currently enrolled as a student there.

“He’s guilty of felony stupid but not guilty of criminal threats,” Yee’s defense attorney, David Wallin, said after his appearance in San Fernando Superior Court on Wednesday.

“Now he’s gotten the message that the things he said on the ESPN website were inappropriate, and he will never make that mistake again,” Wallin said.

The defense attorney said it’s his understanding prosecutors may still file charges of criminal threats, but as of Wednesday no charges relating to Yee’s posted comments had been filed.

“They said they might still go after that,” Wallin said.

As for the gun, Wallin said Yee’s father bought it legally in 1984 and kept it hidden in a bedroom closet. The son never knew it existed until Monday, he said.

“The detectives got lucky finding the weapon,” Whe said.

Prosecutors initially wanted Yee’s bail set at $2 million and Wallin suggested $35,000.

The father, Roger Manfoo Yee, has been in touch with law enforcement and has been cooperating, Wallin said, adding he intends to represent the father who faces the same weapons charge as his son.

He blames law enforcement for sensationalizing the whole incident.

“It wouldn’t be (a national issue) but for law enforcement making it that way,” he said.

Alerting the public about a comment made about murdering children is like giving a “tiger a big piece of fresh meat,” Wallin said.





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