Fired worker accused of making terrorist threats against California power plant

Wednesday, January 9th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ A recently fired nuclear plant worker was arrested for allegedly threatening former co-workers, and about 250 weapons were found in his home and a storage shed he rented, authorities said.

Authorities said the 43-year-old man, whose name was not immediately released, may have wanted revenge over losing his job at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station plant within the past several weeks. It was not immediately known why the man was fired.

Several times since then, he called to threaten supervisors and other employees at the plant in northern San Diego County, 65 miles south of Los Angeles, said Orange County sheriff's spokesman Jim Amormino.

``He said he had a lot of guns and he was going to come back and shoot them,'' Amormino said. ``He did threaten supervisors ... and anyone who had anything to do with his termination.''

The man was arrested Tuesday at his Laguna Niguel home. He was booked for investigation of terrorist threats and was jailed in Santa Ana.

Some of the weapons found early Wednesday at the man's house and the shed in San Juan Capistrano were illegal, authorities said. Officials also found thousands of rounds of ammunition.

``We take every threat serious, especially those from former employees of a nuclear power plant,'' Amormino said. ``Is the person capable of carrying out the threat? Considering we found a cache of weapons and ammunition, we think the answer is yes.''

Two sheriff's deputies were overcome by fumes at the shed from an unknown chemical, said Lt. Greg Russell. Authorities described the chemical as a yellow vapor from an ammunition canister. The deputies were taken to a hospital to be examined, and a hazardous material team was sent to the site.

Russell said a friend of the suspect contacted authorities earlier this week and told them the man had threatened plant employees. The nature of the threats was not immediately released.

The plant is run by Southern California Edison. A call to the utility's headquarters was not immediately returned Wednesday.