A Fountain Valley man was arrested today by Cal State Long Beach police after a months-long investigation stemming from a mid-September incident during which online threats were made against the La Raza Student Association, university officials said.
Christopher Cook, 40, was taken into custody without incident by University Police Department officials. He faces five counts of felony criminal threats with a hate crime enhancement, according to Police Chief Fernando Solorzano.
Authorities said the cyber-crime investigation was launched when a student reported that death threats against its members had been posted to the group’s Facebook page the weekend of September 16.
Cook was confronted by officers at the beginning of the investigation but denied involvement at that time, officials said. University police then discovered that Cook owned firearms and placed him under surveillance. A warrant for his arrest was later issued.
Cook was booked in Long Beach City Jail. The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office will prosecute the case.
“I would like to thank the men and women of the University Police Department (UPD) for their dedication to this investigation, as well as their handling other daily responsibilities,” Solorzano said in a statement. “We are here to serve the interests of the campus community, which includes safeguarding your rights as well as your safety.”
Solorzano credited victims and other members of the campus with helping police make progress in the case with the information and assistance they provided.
“In short, community policing—which depends on strong ties between the department and campus community—helped successfully resolve this situation,” he said.
CSULB President Jane Close Conoley announced the arrest in an email to the campus community this morning, thanking Solorzano and the UPD for their time and effort devoted to the 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,” she said.
The threats against La Raza members weren’t the first, or even most recent, hateful messages to be made against minority groups on campus. Hateful messages have been found at CSULB directed at the Muslim, Jewish, Black and Latino communities this year.
“As I have said before, We Are One Beach. Our strength is in true partnership and mutual concern for every member of our community,” Conoley went on to say in the email. “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.”