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Man arrested in videotaped threat to California university

This undated photo provided by the Orange County Sheriff's Department shows David Kenneth Smith of Los Angeles. Authorities arrested Smith, who is accused of threatening a staff member at Soka University in Aliso Viejo, Calif., after he posted videos of himself holding guns and talking about a desire to go on a killing rampage. The OCSD says Smith was arrested Friday, Nov. 3, 2017, on suspicion of criminal threats. A number of loaded weapons were found in his home. (Orange County Sheriff's Department via AP)
November 06, 2017 - 4:13 PM

SANTA ANA, Calif. - A man who posted videos of himself holding guns and smiling while describing his desire to go on a killing rampage has been arrested after threatening a staff member at a private university in Southern California that he attended, authorities said Monday.

David Kenneth Smith, 39, pleaded not guilty to a charge of making criminal threats after authorities received a report about an email exchange he had with a staff member at Soka University in Aliso Viejo last week.

Smith had been emailing the employee about discipline he faced for marijuana use when he attended the university in 2008. He then sent a link to a YouTube video showing him in a bathtub with a semi-automatic pistol on his chest speaking about the school, said Jaimee Blashaw, a spokeswoman for the Orange County Sheriff's Department.

In the video, Smith said college employees "never liked me" and described being repeatedly fined for residence hall violations and accused of stealing another student's belongings. He said he filed complaints with the school against several employees, including a dean.

Investigators said Smith had posted other videos of himself holding weapons and speaking of his desire to kill. Smith was arrested Friday, and authorities recovered nine loaded weapons registered to him.

"There were multiple videos of him talking about killing sprees, and in several videos, he's carrying a firearm," Blashaw said. "The threat was credible enough."

In another video on his YouTube page, posted last week and titled, "What Good Does Killing Ever Do?" Smith talked about how a "killing spree" would be better than taking his own life, as he said his father had done.

A separate video shows Smith with a shotgun slung over his shoulder as talks about possibly going to a college campus and shooting students or shooting at police officers.

"If you're going to go on a killing spree, you might as well do it equally. I've given it a lot of thought about this," he says into the camera. "Who do you kill? I've come to the conclusion you just shoot everyone."

Smith appeared in court Monday in an orange jail jumpsuit and was held on $1 million bail. He's due back for a hearing next week.

"He obviously has some sick fascination with mass shootings, which is the scary thing," prosecutor Brett Brian said after Smith's arraignment.

Smith has no criminal history in Orange County, Blashaw said. She said it was not clear why Smith reached out to the school, but when the exchanges escalated, the university was right to report it.

Smith graduated from Soka University with a liberal-arts degree in 2008, said Wendy Harder, a school spokeswoman. The school has 450 students and was founded by a Japanese Buddhist philosopher and educator, she said.

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Balsamo reported from Los Angeles.

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This story has been corrected to show Smith is 39, not 40, according to new information from authorities.

News from © The Associated Press, 2017
The Associated Press

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