Former UCSB employee Neil Baker, who was detained last week in Kennewick, Wash. for threatening to “bomb and injure property,” will be arraigned today.
Baker, 51, is being held on $25,000 bail in Benton County Jail after sending harassing e-mails and posting threatening comments about the university’s student body and faculty online. After three years of intimidation, the Kennewick Police Dept. decided to take action once Baker’s rants were interpreted as “a threat to damage property and possibly to take human life [at UCSB].”
According to UCSB Chief of Police Dustin Olson, Baker will have a court hearing today at Benton County Superior Court.
“I know that he has a hearing [today],” Olson said. “That’s about all the details I know. It was originally planned for [yesterday], now it’s [today].”
However, Olson said there is no way of predicting the trial’s outcome.
“It’s hard to say, that’s always my opinion,” he said. “We don’t know what the judge is going to do. [Baker] could be released, he could not be released.”
In response to the possibility of Baker’s release today, Olson said the UCSB Police Dept. has taken extra measures to increase student safety.
“We’ve increased our police coverage on campus already, beginning with Monday, and we will be continuing that indefinitely.”
One of Baker’s suspicious online entries — posted on craigslist.org on Feb. 5 — was a fabricated news story detailing a mass suicide at UCSB consisting of 13,000 faculty, staff and students who were so consumed with guilt over his accusations about the university that they decided to kill themselves. Three days later, Baker announced online that he would visit Santa Barbara within the next few weeks.
The former university employee of four years worked as an engineer at UCSB’s Nanofabrication Facility before being forced to resign in 2004. Since then, Baker has blamed the university, which he has dubbed the “criminal Mafia,” for sabotaging his career with libelous stories.
He moved to Washington soon after and began making threats about the university, via the Internet, in 2007.
According to Kennewick Police Dept. reports, officers searching Baker’s Washington home found an assault rifle and various books “about [the] chemistry of powder and explosives and component explosives and a technical manual from the Army about incendiaries.”
However, this isn’t the first time Baker has caused alarm on campus. The UCSB campus was locked down in January of 2007 after Baker posted a number of threatening comments on craigslist referring to a shooting at the Goleta Postal Station in 2006 that left six staff members dead. Moreover, he hinted at reenacting the shooting at UCSB to celebrate its one-year anniversary.
Baker’s most recent post was made on Feb. 12, three days before his arrest. The note included images of various university school shooters and text that read, “Remember that kid you bullied in school? It’s too late to say you’re sorry.” Baker also made a personalized poster with his own photograph and the statement “Remember that coworker you mobbed at UCSB? It’s not too late to say you’re sorry.”
— Staff Report