A former Laguna Beach City Council candidate has pleaded not guilty to firearms charges after authorities connected his son to an online post that city officials considered threatening.
Robert Mason Ross, 75, pleaded not guilty Jan. 6 to four felony counts related to being a felon in illegal possession of firearms.
He remains in custody on $250,000 bail, according to Orange County Superior Court and jail records. Information about his prior conviction was not immediately available.
Authorities arrested Ross — a frequent council critic and a 2012 candidate — and his son Michael James Ross, 33, early Jan. 5 after police and the Orange County Sheriff’s Department SWAT team executed a search warrant at their Laguna Beach home in the 21500 block of Treetop Lane.
Investigators found six rifles, a semiautomatic handgun and more than 100 boxes of ammunition, said Laguna Beach police Sgt. Tim Kleiser.
Laguna Beach police detectives sought a search warrant on the property after identifying Michael Ross as a suspect in their investigation into a Craigslist post titled, “Going to Laguna Beach city council with My Gillie suit.”
The Craigslist post showed five photos of a man dressed in camouflage with an automatic rifle hiding in the brush.
Detectives launched an investigation after Laguna Beach City Hall employees alerted police Jan. 4 about the post, Kleiser said.
“I am warning the city council that I am going to show up with my gillie suit, to remove these tyrants from office, in 2017,” the post stated, according to police. “Call the police and the city, council and tell them I am coming to end this corruption, from the Laguna Beach City Council, once and for all. Hahahahahaha, you are going down now.”
Police arrested Michael Ross on suspicion of criminal threats and threats to public officials.
The unemployed Laguna Beach resident was released Jan. 9 without posting bail because he was “not arraigned in time,” according to jail records.
The Orange County district attorney’s office said it is continuing to investigate and will determine whether to file charges.
Robert Ross and Michael Ross are now under restraining orders prohibiting them from contacting or being in the vicinity of City Council members or the city manager, Kleiser said.
Robert Ross frequently speaks on a variety of topics at council meetings.
In August, he complained about a neighborhood trolley route through the Top of the World area that does not include a stop at the corner of Alta Laguna Boulevard and Chateau Way as was the case with Laguna’s mainline bus system.
“It’s put a tremendous hardship on a lot of people,” he said at the Aug. 30 council meeting. “They are not happy about it.”
At that meeting Robert Ross called for eliminating Laguna’s city manager and city attorney positions.
Fry and Alderton write for Times Community News
7 p.m.: This article has been updated throughout with Robert Ross’ not guilty plea and additional details.
This article was originally published at 1:10 p.m.