• 22-year-old man accused of emailing fake threats to avoid going to county fair with parents

    By: Natalie Dreier, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

    Updated:

    A 22-year-old man from California took a drastic step to get out of going to the county fair with his parents, police said. 

    Police said Erick Villasenor emailed about a possible active shooter at the Los Angeles County Fair to cause an uproar and use media reports to avoid going to the fair with his family, with whom he lives in Sylmar, California.

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    "It was with the intent that it would spark some chaos and commotion," Pomona Police Chief Michael Olivieri said, according to the Los Angeles Times. "It would be captured in the news media. And then he could use it as an excuse to his parents not to go to the fair. Kind of a crazy thing, but that's what we have learned."

    The emails were sent to the fair association and said there was going to be a mass shooting on Sunday, police said, according to KTLA.

    The email said, according to police and KTLA, "Hello, I was told that someone was planning on doing a mass shooting on Sunday at the fairground. I just wanted to inform you guys already."

    Villasenor was arrested Friday after police and the FBI narrowed the number of suspects down. 

    Olivieri said he is going to try to get the department reimbursed by Villasenor for the investigation and resources used to look into the threats, the Times reported.

    Villasenor admitted to sending the email, NBC News reported.

    Police, however, also used Villasenor's alleged false threats as a learning experience, to see how infrastructure put in place by festival organizers would work in a real-life situation.

    A new command center was built on the fairgrounds where police, fire and other first responders can coordinate. There are also extra video cameras and metal detectors installed. In addition, employees and contractors' badges are scanned before they enter the fairgrounds, the Times reported.

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