Updated at the bottom with personal details on Eric Yee, and the comments that may have triggered his arrest. (Headline has been changed to reflect the suspect's identity.)
Originally posted at 9:30 a.m.
The L.A. County Sheriff's Department is refusing to release the name of a young Asian man in his early 20s whom they arrested yesterday for making online threats to mass-murder Valencia schoolchildren.
According to the sheriff, “The blogger mentioned that it would be like the Aurora, Colorado, shooting.” And he wasn't exactly out of range: His house in the 23000 block of Edenton Place, where investigators say they found “several firearms,” overlooked two local schools.
Deputy Joshua Dubin at the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station says the suspect's name won't be released until the two other police forces involved in the investigation — the Yale University Police Department and the Bristol Police Department in Connecticut — have confirmed there are no additional suspects.
However, Lieutenant Donn Watson with the Bristol PD confirms to L.A. Weekly that there are “no more suspects” on their end.
The only reason the investigation began in Connecticut, he says, is that Bristol-based company ESPN “called us and said they had a suspicious posting on a chatroom for sports events.” So local police notified the L.A. County Sheriff's Department, and haven't been involved since.
No word on why the university cops at Yale got involved, though. We've contacted them for comment. [Update: NBC4 implies that the suspect may have been a recent Yale graduate. Neighbors tell the station that the suspect was “well educated” but had since moved back in with his parents.]
Watson recalls that the ESPN commenter “made references to shooting children.” But why he would choose a national sports site as his outlet of choice is still unclear. “He was not commenting on sports at all,” says the Bristol lieutenant. “His blogs had nothing to do with sports.”
More creepy details from the L.A. County Sheriff:
On Monday September 17, 2012, Santa Clarita Valley Station received information from Bristol Connecticut Police that an unknown person posted on a blog that they were watching kids and did not mind murdering them. The blogger mentioned that it would be like the Aurora, Colorado, shooting. The suspect who posted the blog was linked to a residence in the 23000 block of Edenton Place, Valencia. The location overlooks Santa Clarita Elementary School and Arroyo Seco Junior High.
That particular cul-de-sac, perched on the easternmost edge of a clifftop housing development in suburban Valencia, would have put both schools directly in the suspect's crosshairs.
Strangely, the city line between Valencia and Santa Clarita runs directly up the canyon that separated the alleged James Holmes wannabe from his targets.
Update No. 1: The suspect has been identified as 21-year-old Eric Yee, described by the Associated Press as a former economics major at Yale who “withdrew from school in May of this year for undisclosed reasons” and moved back home to Valencia.
His cellphone number is posted on his Facebook, but the line is going straight to voicemail this afternoon.
What remains unclear is the exact comments Yee made to scare ESPN.com moderators into reporting him to police. ESPN spokesman Mike Soltys does tell the AP that they were posted in the comment section of an online ESPN story about LeBron James' new line of Nikes, posted last Thursday, Sept. 13.
The story — called “LeBron X, with works, to cost $270” — boasts more than 3,000 comments.
Although we can't find any that directly plot out plans to murder schoolchildren, some comments do suggest that kids might shoot each other for James' new shoes, due to their insane price tag.
For instance, email@example.com writes: “Some kid will get killed if he wears one of these in the hood. I'll guarantee that!” And Buzz1158 asks: “When will the first kid be killed for a pair?”
Update No. 2: Soltys tells L.A. Weekly that Yee's comments were removed as soon as moderators found them, but that their paraphrasing in the sheriff's press release — that the suspect was “watching kids and did not mind murdering them” — is a “pretty accurate portrayal” of the original wording.