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South L.A. man charged with threats against sheriff’s deputies and others at Inglewood courthouse

According to a federal indictment, a 42-year-old South L.A. man threatened to set off explosives planted in Sheriff's Department vehicles at the Inglewood courthouse.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

A South Los Angeles man was arrested by federal authorities Wednesday for allegedly making a series of online threats to kill law enforcement personnel and others at the Inglewood courthouse, a nearby school and a private business.

John Patrice Hale, 42, who used the online moniker “Frost K Blizzard,” made the threats using techniques such as Tor and proxy servers designed to make his internet posts anonymous, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.

Hale appeared before a federal judge in Los Angeles on Wednesday afternoon and pleaded not guilty to charges contained in a 10-count indictment.

The indictment alleges that Hale sent the online threats over several days in May 2017 to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s court services division website. Although some of the threats invoked the Islamic State group, authorities have not uncovered any evidence linking Hale to international terrorism, federal prosecutors said.

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According to the indictment, Hale threatened to set off explosives planted in Sheriff’s Department vehicles at the Inglewood courthouse. The threat prompted the evacuation of the courthouse, and both the sheriff’s Arson and Explosives Unit and the Threat Interdiction Unit responded.

Two similar threats, sent May 15, promised to “take out as many officers that pull out (of) your parking structure” and also threatened a nearby school, according to the document, which alleges that one of the threats read, “ISIS will have revenge today,” using an acronym for Islamic State.

Two threats made a day later warned of explosives planted under a patrol car at the Inglewood sheriff’s station, saying the impact would be felt for a “half city block,” according to the indictment. The threats again prompted a significant response by law enforcement and evacuation of the Inglewood courthouse.

In addition, Hale allegedly sent a threat to a private business through its website on May 23 that read: “All praises to Allah. Today, we will detonate an explosive at your La Brea and Arbor Vitae location if our needs aren’t met by your company. ISIS,” according to federal prosecutors.

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Prosecutors also contend that on May 25, Hale submitted bogus information to the FBI’s Tips and Public Leads web page, despite a warning that submitting a false tip could result in a fine or imprisonment.

Hale claimed on the site that he knew a man who “would supply ISIS with explosives even planting them for them” and who had received instructions from ISIS “to send Inglewood Sheriff Department bomb threats via email,” according to the indictment.

The indictment, which was returned by a Los Angeles federal grand jury Nov. 7, charges Hale with five counts of making false and misleading statements concerning terrorism, four counts of making threats to injure in interstate commerce and one count of making false statements to federal law enforcement.

He faces up to five years in federal prison for each of the 10 counts, prosecutors said.

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UPDATES:

6:05 p.m.: This article was updated to include Hale’s not guilty plea.

This article was originally published at 3:35 p.m.


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