In the aftermath of the shootings at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, school districts and law enforcement throughout the country have been on high alert. So, it's not surprising when the Los Angeles Police Department swooped down on Kyle Bangayan and arrested him when he posted messages on Facebook stating that he would inflict the same kind of violence in Los Angeles. The Los Angeles District Attorney's Office ultimately decided to drop the charges against the 24-year-old man after deciding that his behavior on the social media website did not constitute a crime according to the state's threat statute.
According to the Los Angeles Police Department, Bangayan posted three messages on Facebook regarding the Newtown shootings. Bangayan wrote that thousands of children die in third world countries every day, so Americans need to get over what happened at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. Apparently, Bangayan has grown tired of hearing about the Newtown shootings and the extensive media coverage of the incident. He also wrote that if people didn't stop posting about Sandy Hook, he would do the same thing in Los Angeles.
When the police department was notified about the Facebook posts, they proceeded to arrest Bangayan at his parents' house in Hollywood on December 16, 2012. Law enforcement authorities confiscated multiple handguns, rifles and ammunition found at the parents' home.
Bangayan was booked in the Men's Central Jail in Los Angeles for suspicion of making criminal threats. His bail was set at $500,000. When the police searched Bangayan's apartment and car, they didn't find any firearms. They also didn't find any evidence that indicated Bangayan planned on carrying out the alleged threat.
Bangayan stated that the Facebook posts were a joke. He had no intention of harming anyone. He also mentioned that some of his friends understood he wasn't serious and laughed at his comments.
On December 17, 2012, the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office announced that it wasn't going to file criminal charges against Bangayan. Since Bangayan did not reference a specific victim or school as the target of his alleged threats in the Facebook posts, his actions are not classified a crime. The prosecutors obviously disagreed with L.A.P.D. chief Charlie Beck who previously claimed that Bangayan made very specific threats and had the present ability to carry them out.
Even though many people are understandably upset and hypervigilant after the shooting at the elementary school in Connecticut, it is important to remember that law enforcement shouldn't pursue a case if they don't have sufficient evidence to prosecute the person. Granted, Bangayan's comments could definitely be considered callous and insensitive in light of the tragedy that recently occurred. But were his comments a threat under California law? According to the district attorney's office, the answer is no.
If you are facing criminal charges, contact a Maryland criminal defense lawyer. Schedule a consultation so that your case can be evaluated. An experienced Maryland criminal defense lawyer will ensure that your rights are protected and aggressively fight the charges filed against you.
Published with help from the DUI Attorneys at Finebloom & Haenel P.A.