Neil Baker, a former UCSB employee, was arrested in Kennewick, Washington on Monday on the charge of threatening and harassing the university. He is currently being held in Benton County Jail, but local law enforcement warn that he is a person of interest and will be released soon.
In recent months, the intensity of former UCSB engineer Neil Baker’s frequent online postings — often threatening and targeting UCSB — have escalated. Although Baker, 51, has a history of making threatening or harassing statements to UCSB via the internet, a press release from the Kennewick Police Dept. said Baker’s recent comments were “taken as a threat to damage property and possibly to take human life [at UCSB].” Baker is currently being detained on a charge of “Threats to Bomb and Injure Property” and is awaiting arraignment.
Baker worked for four years as an engineer in the nanofabrication lab at UCSB before being forced to resign in 2004. According to the Kennewick Police Dept. press release, he moved to the Tri-Cities area in Washington shortly after, and in 2007 began posting comments on the internet regarding UCSB. In his postings, Baker often blames UCSB for rendering him “permanently unemployable” and calls the university the “criminal Mafia.”
“In 2007 Baker started posting comments on the internet and sending direct e-mails to UCSB staff and the UCSB police department,” the release stated. “Baker fantasized about and contemplated killing people at UCSB and blowing up the university for sabotaging his future employment possibilities.”
In January 2007, Baker posted a set of comments on the popular classifieds Web site craigslist.org referencing a tragic 2006 shooting at the Goleta Postal Station — in which U.S. Postal Service employee Jennifer San Marco shot and killed six fellow staff members on Jan. 30, 2006 — and hinting at a possible reenactment of the incident at UCSB.
On Feb. 5 of this year, Baker posted a fictitious news story online about a mass suicide of 13,000 UCSB faculty, staff and students on campus. The victims of his fictional account killed themselves, Baker wrote, because of the guilt brought on by his accusations against the campus. In a Feb. 8 posting — prior to his arrest in Washington — Baker said he would be in Santa Barbara in a few weeks.
On Feb. 12, a post appeared on craigslist.org entitled “Does it seem like UCSB is trying to incite Neil to shoot?” The post featured photographs of university school shooters from Northern Illinois University and Virginia Tech with text that said “Remember that kid you bullied in school? It’s too late to say you’re sorry.” He also made a poster with his own photograph that said, “Remember that coworker you mobbed at UCSB? It’s not too late to say you’re sorry.”
According to Kennewick Police Dept. Public Information Sgt. Ken Lattin, the totality of the postings Baker authored led his department to the decision to arrest him.
“Baker’s actions seem to be escalating to a point of carrying out his plans,” the release said. “He calls himself the antichrist.”
According to the report, a search warrant on Baker’s residence in Washington yielded an assault rifle, which was taken, as well as a number of books “about chemistry of powder and explosives and component explosives and a technical manual from the Army about incendiaries.”