The FBI made a second arrest last week in connection with December's bomb threat against the Leichtag Biomedical Research Building, after determining that the original suspect was not involved in the hoax. On Jan. 4, members of the Joint Terrorism Task Force arrested 54-year-old Richard Sills Jr., a temporary Leichtag employee. Officials also dismissed all charges against 50-year-old former lab technician Timothy Bryon Kalka, who was arrested for the crime on Dec. 8.
Sills is charged with conveying false or misleading information and engaging in hoax activities pertaining to explosives. He was scheduled to appear before a judge on Jan. 8 but did not show, said Debra Hartman, media liaison for the San Diego U.S. Attorney's Office.
Jerry Vlasak of the Animal Liberation Press Office, an organization that fields anonymous messages from ALF members and publicly advocates for animal-rights reform, said he did not know if the incident was committed by an ALF affiliate.
"We know there are animals being tortured at UC San Diego, and we know there are people willing to risk their lives and their freedom to stop it," Vlasak said. "Whether this was perpetrated by ALF, we don't really have any firsthand knowledge."
Vlasak said the threat initially appeared to be the work of ALF members, but the recent emergence of "disgruntled employees" made him uncertain of its authenticity.
He also said that ALPO does not know the identities of ALF members, but that Sills is not a known animal-rights activist.
December 10 update: A UCSD employee who was fired from his job as a lab technician last week was arrested Saturday in connection with a bomb hoax Wednesday that targeted a research building on the La Jolla campus where he formerly worked.
Timothy Bryon Kalka, 50, of San Diego, was arrested without incident about 6 a.m. Saturday at his San Diego residence by members of the Joint Terrorism Task Force, FBI Special Agent Darrell Foxworth said.
Kalka is charged in a federal arrest warrant with providing false information or engaging in hoax activities pertaining to explosives. He was booked into the Metropolitan Correctional Center in downtown San Diego and was expected to appear Monday in federal court. Foxworth said the arrest was a "direct result" of leads from the public that followed media broadcasts Thursday of a recording of a bomb threat phoned to the university. Some people who heard the recording "thought they recognized a voice" and called authorities, Foxworth said.
The FBI had also released to the media a copy of a letter that the university had received on Wednesday that stated a group called the Animal Liberation Front would detonate explosive devices at research buildings on the campus if research animals were not evacuated. Foxworth said Saturday that he had no information to either confirm or deny a possible relationship between Kalka and the animal-rights group.
[The UCSD Guardian Online]
Hundreds of staff and students were evacuated from the School of Medicine complex on Dec. 5 after a suspicious package was discovered in the Leichtag Biomedical Research Building. While the device was ultimately determined to be a hoax, questions regarding campus officials' prior knowledge of the threat persist, according to a local union representative.
Buckmaster said that workers in the building's vivariums -- facilities in which animal research is performed -- were told that threats were directed toward "the animal facility." They were also asked to "look for any more suspicious objects" before they evacuated, she added. "The UC received a threat last night against an animal facility and they let employees into the building this morning," Buckmaster said. "As one of the workers and a representative for the workers, we were very disappointed that the university let the employees into work today."
Revelle College senior Rachel Intriago, another researcher at Leichtag, said the building had received harassing phone calls from an animal-rights group the day before the threat was received. Buckmaster said that the Animal Liberation Front, a prominent animal-rights activist group, contacted Leichtag the night before and the morning of the threat.
"They said, 'This is going to be huge,'" she said. ALF representatives could not be reached for comment as of press time.
SAN DIEGO: The FBI is asking for the public's help in identifying who planted
a fake bomb that led to the evacuation of University of California San Diego
medical school buildings at the La Jolla campus
Wednesday, December 5, 2007 -
Breaking news out of UC San Diego, where police have confirmed that a possible explosive device was found on campus.
We're now getting reports that UCSD's Animal Sciences Department received an alleged threat last night from the Animal Liberation Front.
According to a UCSD employee, the ALF claimed that a very large bomb would be placed on campus.
Three science buildings have been evacuated.