A local hip-hop artist is facing possible prison time after sending a series of tweets encouraging people to shoot up their city halls and threatening to “murk” Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, according to police. Murk can be slang for beating or killing someone.
“Run up into your city halls n let off a thousand rounds,” Mario Chheng, 29, said as part of a series of tweets on July 23, according to Long Beach police.
“Shoot up city halls,” he said about three hours later.
“I’ll set this shit off. I’ll murk our mayor,” he said a few minutes later and tagged the Twitter handle for the Long Beach mayor’s office.
Police said they homed in specifically on a final tweet that read, “I’ll join lbpd soon. N I’ll murk our mayor within a year.”
In an interview with the Long Beach Post Monday, Chheng said he was just trolling with the tweets and he was surprised when officers showed up to arrest him on July 27.
“I was saying it, but there was no real intent behind it,” he said. “On the scale of probability it wasn’t anywhere near above the 50 percent mark. It was just more so having the balls to say it, but at the same time I’m saying it behind a computer screen, so there’s no real balls involved.”
Chheng said he agreed to talk with the Post partially because he wanted to warn others not to do what he did.
Chheng is charged with one felony count of threatening a public official, police said. He could face up to three years behind bars if he’s convicted, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office. He pleaded not guilty and is free on $50,000 bail, according to jail records.
Police started looking into Chheng’s tweets after someone in Garcia’s office alerted them, according to Det. David Ternullo, who investigated the case. In the past few years, Ternullo said, the department has investigated a few threats against Garcia, who is very active on Twitter.
Police decided it was possible that Chheng could have carried out his threat against the mayor, but Ternullo declined to give specifics.
“There’s always a chance that the threat could be carried out, yes,” he said.
Police searched Chheng’s home when they arrested him but did not find any guns, according to Ternullo.
Chheng is an aspiring rapper and hip-hop artist. He grew up in the local Cambodian community, and his music videos feature scenes from Long Beach. In June, Chheng pleaded no contest to possession of drug paraphernalia and was sentenced to three years of probation.
Chheng says he believes authorities have been watching him as he’s grown in popularity. He speculated that the FBI could have him under surveillance.
“The stuff, the music that I rap about—you know—even though some of it’s romanticized and exaggerated, I talk about some pretty heavy-duty things, like money laundering,” he said.
Chheng told the Long Beach Post that he hasn’t been in a good mental state lately. Chheng said he’s been saying more and more extreme things on social media to provoke a response.
“I feel like people are watching my stuff but nobody is responding or reacting, so I’m just thinking it’s kind of weird, so it kind of forces me to say more and more outrageous s— just to get a reaction,” he said. “I got a reaction. It just wasn’t the one I was expecting.”
Chheng said he sometimes makes those comments toward public figures like 50 Cent, Selena Gomez or Garcia.
“I don’t even have a strong opinion on the mayor to be honest with you,” he said.
Chheng’s Twitter account is now suspended.
He said his arrest was the first time he’d ever been chastised for saying extreme things on social media. Although, he also said he’d run into trouble before when he claimed to be “the biggest Crip in Long Beach” and was jumped by a group of people.
Chheng said it would be overkill to lock him up for the tweets.
“I would never try to make a death threat,” he said. “It’s not within the realm of my character.”
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