Hotel cook accused of plotting mass shooting admits making threats

A man who threatened to kill his coworkers in a shooting spree at a hotel near the Long Beach Airport pleaded no contest today to two counts of making criminal threats, according to authorities.

The former cook at the Long Beach Marriott is expected to face three years and eight months in prison when he’s sentenced later this month.

Rodolfo Montoya’s arrest sparked national attention in August when authorities said they’d likely averted a mass shooting.

A hotel kitchen coworker who testified against Montoya at a preliminary hearing in October said Montoya “had a plan to go kill all of us.”

Guns police said they found at Montoya’s home. Photo by Thomas R. Cordova.

As Montoya showed off photos of a “machine gun” and a “chopped up body” on his phone, he confidently described how he’d smuggle in the rifle he’d use to murder human resources staffers before turning the gun on others at the hotel, the coworker said from the stand.

Montoya “had the motive, means, and intention to carry out a mass shooting of employees and guests at the Long Beach Marriott Hotel,” prosecutors previously wrote in court documents.

Authorities said Montoya made the threats on Aug. 18 when he was upset about losing some benefits and hotel reward points.

The coworker Montoya talked to reported the threats to hotel management on Aug. 19, and on Aug. 20, police searched his motorhome in Huntington Beach, where they found three handguns, three rifles, a shotgun, at least a dozen cans of ammo and other tactical gear, according to court authorities.

Ammunition on display at a press conference where officials announced the arrest of Rodolfo Montoya, who was accused of plotting a mass shooting at a hotel in Long Beach. Photo by Thomas R. Cordova.

As part of a plea agreement with prosecutors today, Montoya admitted he made the threats and prosecutors dropped two other charges: possession of an assault weapon and intimidating a witness.

The assault weapon charge stemmed from an AR-15 rifle that included tactical equipment like a telescoping stock and pistol grip that police said they found on Montoya’s bed. The intimidating a witness charge was originally filed because Montoya allegedly told the coworker he confided in that he’d kill him if he were “going to be a gossip.”

Nevertheless, the coworker reported what he’d heard to hotel management, who in turn reported it to police, a decision LBPD Chief Robert Luna praised in an August press conference announcing the foiled plot.

“Sir, you saved many lives,” he said, “not only of your employees but any customers that may have been at the Marriott when this guy decided to show up and carry out his threat.”

LBPD chief Robert Luna. Photo by Thomas Cordova.

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Jeremiah Dobruck is the breaking news editor for the Long Beach Post. He began his journalism career in 2007 as an intern at Palos Verdes Peninsula News and has worked for The Forum Newsgroup in New York City, the Daily Pilot and the Press-Telegram. He lives in Torrance with his wife, Lindsey, and their two young children.