by Darren Pytel
On September 25, 2023, around 7:30 a.m., the Davis Police Department was notified of another bomb threat targeting Davis schools and the public library. This is the fifth in recent weeks and was directed at the Davis Joint Unified School District offices, King High School, North Davis Elementary School, Birch Lane Elementary School, and Mary L. Stephens Davis Branch Library. Davis officers responded immediately and cleared each location to ensure the safety of students and staff.
The most recent threat was emailed to several California agencies and media outlets. The message shared similar anti-LGBTQIA+ rhetoric against our schools and community as in the previous threats. It is clear that the sender is attempting to terrorize and disrupt this community to advance their particular hateful ideology, which in itself is outrageous and has no place in Davis or any other city.
While we are continuing to work with our regional and federal partners to investigate these crimes, we have not been able to locate the person or persons responsible for the threats. The IP addresses on each of the emails have been traced, but so far, their origins are coming back to other countries, including Nigeria. Unfortunately, there is basic computer technology that enables email authors to disguise the correct location of where an email originates. In some cases, separate emails are sent to senders in other countries so the email does in fact originate in another country. There is no way to track the initial emails sent to these foreign countries and, because the internet is not controlled by any government entity, it can be used virtually autonomously.
The Davis Police Department is working with the FBI and our regional partners on the continuing criminal investigations. As pointed out by many community members, the continuing threats originated shortly after a contentious event, hosted by Moms for Liberty, was held at the Yolo County Library. The event quickly made national news espousing a particular ideology that is related to the language in the threatening emails. Although there is currently no evidence pointing to any involvement between local members and the threats, the correlation between the two cannot be ignored as part of the overall criminal investigations. While the First Amendment protects certain types of speech, there is certainly speech involving criminal threats and bomb threats that are criminal in nature.
Because of this, criminal cases have been forwarded to the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office to review for criminal charging regarding some of the local social media postings affecting the community that may constitute criminal doxing (threats or harassing communication via communications including social media).
We will continue to work with the District Attorney to determine whether there is criminal culpability and take appropriate action if there is. Regardless, there is no place for the type of toxic communication that is occurring.
From a broader perspective, these types of incidents are part of a national trend affecting numerous cities across the country. The Davis Police Department has been working with intelligence experts to further evaluate the credibility of these types of threats to help guide future responses should they continue. Additionally, we will continue to work closely with the Davis Joint Unified School District on response protocols.
The Davis Police Department does not take these criminal threats and acts of terrorism lightly. We understand the harm, anxiety and unneeded stress that these threats have been causing our community. While bomb threats are rarely credible, the officers will continue to respond and take each incident seriously.
Anyone with information regarding the threats is urged to contact the Davis Police Department by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Further updates will be posted by the Department and will likely be reported on by local media, including the Davis Enterprise who is closely following any breaking information on these incidents and the corresponding criminal investigations.
Lastly, we ask all community members to stand firmly against hate and to continue to denounce those who have placed Davis in harm’s way by placing their ideology on the national stage and bringing these threats to our community. While the actual threats are likely intended to only cause fear, anxiety and disruption, they may certainly incite actual violence, which must be guarded against and prevented. If physical harm does result, any causation between the local communications and any physical harm will not be ignored and instead be fully investigated to the letter of the law.