Heavy Security Directed at Metro Rail After Possible Warning of Bomb Attack on Red Line
Posted: Tuesday, December 6, 2016 – 12:16 PM
(CNS) – Commuters who rely on Metro rail lines were met with heavy security Tuesday as local and federal authorities responded to a tip warning of a possible bomb attack directed at the Red Line subway station in Universal City.
The Universal City Station was heavily fortified, with barricades and a throng of sheriff’s deputies and police officers visibly wielding high-powered weapons. A sign warned travelers that their bags would be subject to search, and anyone who refused to be searched would not be allowed into the underground station.
Heightened security was also in place at stations throughout the transit system, and police said it would remain in place until authorities can determine the credibility of the threat.
Local and federal authorities were notified Monday of a possible “explosive device” that would be detonated at the Red Line station. Authorities learned about the threat by someone in Australia who called a public safety line and provided information about the alleged plot, according to Los Angeles Police Department Cmdr. Horace Frank, assistant commanding officer of the department’s Counterterrorism Bureau.
The threat was relayed to the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, FBI Assistant Director in Charge Deirdre Fike said at a news conference Monday at the federal building in Westwood, where the FBI’s Los Angeles field office is located.
LAPD Chief Charlie Beck reiterated Tuesday that the tip indicated there was a “specific and imminent threat to the Red Line station,” which is located on Lankershim Boulevard across from Universal Studios.
Beck and Frank both said the credibility of the threat was still being vetted. As of midday, however, no problems had been reported at the station.
“Absolutely no issues,” Beck said. “Parking is a little tough because of the media, but other than that there’s no issues.”
Frank said the tip specifically mentioned that an “explosive device” would be detonated at the station on Tuesday.
Given the short notice, authorities opted to release information about the threat to the public, and they urged transit riders to report any suspicious activity.
“When it comes to terrorism activities … our best line of defense is always going to be the community,” Frank said. ” … That’s why we ask members of the community to be vigilant — not to be scared, not to disrupt their daily activities, but to be aware of your surroundings.”
In addition to stepped-up presence of visibly armed deputies and officers, along with bomb-sniffing dogs, authorities noted that undercover patrols were also in operation.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti boarded a Red Line train at the Universal City station Tuesday morning as a show of confidence to fellow riders.
“Please go about your business today,” Garcetti said.
He urged anyone seeing something suspicious to call (877) A-THREAT.
Earlier, he advised Southlanders not to be alarmed at the beefed-up security measures.
“… People will see a heightened security presence at some of the stations, police patrols at Metro stations and other places (Tuesday), but don’t let those frighten you. Those are there for your protection, and we meet threats with every possible precaution that we can.
When someone says they want to cause harm to Angelenos, we pull together and make sure that it is nothing more than a threat and show force to make sure that anybody who would seek to inflict harm is met by the great law enforcement officials that we have here.”
Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell also urged residents to stay calm but remain vigilant.
“This could be real, it could be a hoax,” McDonnell said. “But we must remain calm but vigilant. And we’re asking the public to take the same precautions they would take on any other day.
As far as actions we’re taking, what you don’t see is just as important as what you will see. You will see … an increased uniformed presence especially at transit stations where we also deploy our K-9 explosive detection teams. We’ll have undercover operations under way as well.”
Officials repeated the mantra, “If you see something, say something,” while urging people to go about their lives but to contact authorities if they notice something that doesn’t seem right.
Residents can call Metro’s Transit Watch Hotline at (888) 950-7233 or notify the agency through the Transit Watch app, which can be downloaded from www.transitwatchla.org/app. In addition, they can call (877) A-THREAT.
Also, people can download the LAPD’s iWatchLA app from the department’s website at www.lapdonline.org.
Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Burbank, applauded local authorities’ response to the threat, and equated the threat to one received almost exactly one year ago that prompted the closure of all Los Angeles Unified School District campus. That threat turned out to be a hoax.
“If it turns out to be a hoax like the prior threat against the LAUSD, it will represent another profound example of the extraordinary cost imposed on communities throughout the United States by such actions,” said Schiff, ranking member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.