| A coffee cup left at a memorial by a mourner on the Virginia Tech campus. (AP)
Yuba City (California), April 20 (Reuters): Teachers locked classroom doors, lowered shades and kept nearly 22,000 school children inside all day today in two northern California cities after a man threatened to go on a killing spree inspired by Monday’s mass murder at Virginia Tech.
Police patrolled public schools in Yuba City and nearby Marysville 65 km north of state capital Sacramento after Jeffery Thomas Carney, who officials said had a criminal record, allegedly said he intended to make the mass slaying at Virginia Tech “look mild”.
Local officials say Carney called his pastor at the United Methodist Church on Wednesday evening and said he was armed with an AK-47 rifle, improvised explosive devices and poison and would seek to provoke a confrontation with police to “commit suicide-by-cop”.
“At about 8:30 am we asked the principals to put all schools in lock-down,” said Nancy Aaberg, superintendent of the 12,000-pupil Yuba City Unified School District. “We just kind of felt it was a consistent across-the-board safety measure.”
“We actually had police at all of our campuses,” she said in an interview. “It was a generic threat; there was no specific threat to any of our specific schools or any other schools from this particular suspect.”
Yuba City officials sent high school students home early. Officials in sister city Marysville across the river also locked down schools, affecting 9,700 students, an administrator said.
The Sutter county sheriff’s department described Carney, 28, as a transient and reportedly a methamphetamine abuser possibly under the influence and exhibiting symptoms of methamphetamine psychosis.
It said Carney has a criminal record including burglary and conspiracy, and was out on bail following a charge of domestic violence against his parents. His father, reached by telephone, declined to comment.
Carney now faces new state charges of making a terrorist threat, Sutter county sheriff Jim Denny said.
Virginia Tech student Cho Seung-Hui shot and killed 32 people and himself on the Blacksburg, Virginia, campus on Monday in the deadliest shooting rampage in modern US history. The murders have prompted a series of scares at universities and schools across the US in recent days.