WEST COVINA — A Monrovia man tied to a series of bomb threat calls in Pasadena last year was charged Thursday for allegedly making calls threatening to shoot up San Gabriel Valley schools, hospitals and a mall.
The recent threats occurred last week.
The District Attorney’s Office filed six counts of making criminal threats and five counts of falsely reporting an emergency against 26-year-old Gerardo Cortez, according to District Attorney spokeswoman Jane Robison.
He was supposed to be arraigned Thursday at West Covina Superior Court but it was continued to Oct. 4, court officials said.
Investigators from five agencies, including the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, the FBI, Arcadia police, Monrovia police and Covina police, arrested Cortez at his Monrovia home on Tuesday, sheriff’s Capt. Michael Parker said.
Cortez allegedly made calls threatening to attack four schools with an AK-47 assault rifle, a chain of San Gabriel Valley hospitals and the Westfield Santa Anita shopping mall in Arcadia, officials said.
The first incident took place Sept. 9 when a phone call to Covina Police threatened violence against “Citrus Medical Center”, authorities said.
The threat resulted in West Covina police searching Citrus Valley Medical Center – Queen of the Valley Campus in West Covina. Covina police doing the same at Citrus Valley Medical Center, Intercommunity Campus and Glendora police searching Foothill Presbyterian Hospital in Glendora. All hospitals were put on lockdown.
A similar threat was made the same day at Santa Fe Middle School in Monrovia.
On Sept. 10, threats were made to Duarte High School and Northview Intermediate School in Duarte and Westfield Santa Anita in Arcadia.
Then on Sept. 12, Arcadia police received a call claiming a gunman was at Arcadia High School.
Cortez was convicted of making a threat before.
The conviction stems from a series of bomb threats that targeted a Pasadena middle school, a Pasadena post office and the Pasadena Department of Public Health last year.
A bomb threat led to the evacuation of Washington Middle School and adjacent Washington Accelerated Elementary School on Oct. 24, 2012. Another threat was made the next day which targeted the Pasadena Department of Public Health. It also prompted an evacuation. Authorities said the caller claimed to be armed with an assault weapon and was nearby. No bombs were found.
Cortez was arrested about a block from the health agency the same day. He later told investigators he was upset over personal problems.
He took a deal and pleaded no contest to one count of making a false bomb report to a business or agency. Two additional counts of making a bomb threat, and one count of attempting to make a criminal threat, were dismissed.
He was sentenced to 16 months in county jail June 21 under A.B. 109 of 2011, also known as the prison realignment. He was released June 24 with credit for time served in jail since his arrest in October.
Under the law, offenders whose most recent criminal offense is deemed “non-violent,” “non-serious” and “non-sexual” are eligible to serve their sentences in county jail rather that state prison, as part of a strategy to conform to federal mandates to reduce prison overcrowding.
- Brian Day and Ruby Gonzales