California man with firearms cache pleads not guilty to threatening a workplace shooting

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A Southern California man with a cache of firearms pleaded not guilty on Thursday to charges of threatening to shoot up a hotel, in a case that police described as an averted attack that followed three mass shootings over the past month.

Police in Long Beach arrested Rodolfo Montoya, 37, on Tuesday, saying he had threatened the day before to attack the hotel where he worked because he was upset over an employment-related issue.

Police said they found an arsenal of high-powered firearms, including an illegal assault rifle, hundreds of rounds of ammunition, high-capacity magazines and tactical gear at Montoya's home after they were notified of the verbal threat by a fellow employee at the Long Beach Marriott.

Prosecutors charged Montoya with two counts of making criminal threats and with dissuading a witness, as well as possessing a Colt AR-15 rifle, which is banned under California law, the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office said in a statement.

Montoya, who worked at a restaurant in the hotel and was held in jail on bail of $500,000, pleaded not guilty during a court appearance on Thursday, said District Attorney's Office spokesman Ricardo Santiago.

"Because this was reported, I firmly believe many lives were saved," Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna told a news conference on Wednesday evening.

'KILL EVERYONE'

In Wisconsin, a 31-year-old man who also had a collection of firearms was arrested on Tuesday and accused of threatening to carry out a workplace shooting.

Kevin Pinkham told a co-worker at the Eau Claire distribution center where he worked on Aug. 15 that "I'm going to shoot this place up," according to a criminal complaint.

The complaint said Pinkham denied making the threats, but admitted having replied to a text from his girlfriend who asked if he was having a bad day: "No, I'm just going to kill everyone." He told investigators he was only joking, the complaint said.

Police said they found several rifles, handguns and ammunition at Pinkham's home, as well as a loaded Walther 9mm pistol in his car.

Pinkham, who was charged with making terrorist threats and disorderly conduct, was scheduled for a court appearance next Tuesday. His attorney did not reply to a request for comment.

(Additional reporting by Peter Szekely in New York and Brendan O'Brien in Chicago; Editing by Bill Tarrant and Peter Cooney)

08/23/2019 1:11

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