Investigators have found no evidence to corroborate a warning of a terrorist plot to bomb the Universal City Metro station, defusing fears of an imminent attack in the heart of Los Angeles’ sprawling public transit system, authorities said late Tuesday.
Federal investigators determined that the warning of a bombing called in on a tip line in Australia was not a credible threat. Law enforcement officials suspect the anonymous caller may have previously made threats that did not materialize, according to the FBI.
Investigators were working to identify the anonymous caller and FBI officials noted that those who provide false threats to police face prosecution.
The bomb threat had put Metro Red Line riders on high alert after law enforcement officials released information about the potential attack Monday night.
On Tuesday, commuters were met by heavily armed deputies, dogs and bag searches, part of increased security visible across the Los Angeles County transit system.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department had extra security at the entrance to the Metro Red Line’s Universal City station Tuesday after a report of a planned terrorist attack.(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti talks to Metro Red Line passengers on a train he boarded Tuesday at the Universal City station. Seeking to calm any nerves frayed by a report of a planned terrorist attack on the station, the mayor asked riders to “please go about your business.”(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
A Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy and a bomb-sniffing dog stand near the entrance to the Metro Red Line’s Universal City station Tuesday morning.(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
Law enforcement agencies beefed up their presence at L.A. County Metro stations Tuesday in response to a report of a potential attack on the Red Line’s Universal City station.(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti gets a hug from commuter Susan Rorke on the Metro Red Line on Tuesday. Garcetti rode the line to reassure passengers after a report of a potential terrorist attack on the line’s Universal City station.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
An L.A. County sheriff’s deputy checks a passenger’s bag near the entrance to the Metro Red Line’s Universal City station. A report from an overseas tip line warned of a potential attack on the station Tuesday.(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
At the Universal City station, a sign warned riders they would not be allowed to use the Red Line subway system to downtown L.A. without their bags being searched.
Since early Tuesday, sheriff’s bomb squad teams with K-9s have combed the station and other areas of the transit systems.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell said beyond the visible presence, undercover deputies would be on trains across the system.
Speaking at the Universal City Metro station, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti pledged that law enforcement was prepared and asked residents to be vigilant.
“The eyes and ears of the people of Los Angeles are the most important force multiplier we have,” said Garcetti, who rode for several stops on the Red Line.
Riders taking the Red Line from downtown to North Hollywood on Tuesday morning seemed unfazed by reports of a threat and eager to take Garcetti’s advice.
“We have nothing to fear but fear itself,” exclaimed one rider to a sparsely populated Civic Center station platform as he boarded a Purple Line train.
Uniformed deputies were not visible on a northbound Red Line train or at stops en route to Universal City, although McDonell said plainclothes officers would likely be riding trains as well. Deputies in full tactical gear, some carrying rifles and others flanked by dogs, were seen at the Universal City and North Hollywood stations.
The heavy security presence was calming to most riders. Before he boarded a Red Line train to Hollywood where he planned to visit the Walk of Fame, tourist Trudian Douglas Llewington said he was unconcerned.
“It seems there’s more than enough precautions being taken,” said Llewington, of England.
As he waited for a downtown train from Universal City, Greg Averetta, 54, of Northridge, said he wasn’t aware of a reported threat. Threats are a constant these days and he wasn’t going to change his commute over something that could easily be a hoax, he said.
“It seems to me that we get so many of these calls and complaints that it’s hard to figure out what true and not true,” he said. “I’m not going to spend too much time worrying about it.”
A few LAPD officers could be seen on horseback near the Hollywood and Vine station, and the boulevard was shut down between Argyle Avenue and Vine Street. The closure, however, was prompted by the scheduled premiere of “Star Wars: Rogue One” at the Pantages Theatre, not the reported terror threat.
“That train stuff isn’t as big as this,” joked a security guard.
Times staff writer Matt Hamilton contributed to this report.
9:15 p.m.: This article has been updated with additional comments on the source of the threat.
8:15 p.m.: This article has been updated with comments from law enforcement sources that the threat was not found to be credible.
12:25 p.m.: This article has been updated with comments from Los Angeles Police Cmdr. Horace Frank and commuters.
10:50 a.m.: This article has been updated with comments from commuters.
This article was originally published at 9:05 a.m.