Salinas bomb threat suspect pleads not guilty

911 Transcripts released

Man arrested for Monterey County courthouse bomb threats

SALINAS, Calif. - UPDATE: 3/14/19 3:21 p.m. -- The county 911 transcripts of bomb threats made to the Monterey County Courthouse have been released by the Monterey County Sheriff's Office. A multi-agency effort tied those calls to 29 year old Ruben Torres of Castroville.

The initial calls came in Monday at around 8:40 a.m. The first call was straight-forward, saying "There's a bomb at the Salinas courthouse."

A second call came in saying "10 minutes the bomb goes off. 10 minutes the Salinas Courthouse will no longer be there."

The third call that morning stressed the seriousness of the caller's threat. Saying "Now we'll see how good is your bomb squad. They cannot find what they cannot see. I got all the time. When everyone goes back in, it's going to be the 4th of July."

The courthouse and buildings nearby were evacuated as Monterey County Sheriff's bomb team was deployed and attempted to find any explosives.

None were found with the use of bomb detection dogs after three buildings were searched.

The next day, another call came in around 1 p.m. with the caller saying "I just heard two guys talking about committing a shooting at the Salinas courthouse."

The caller said the men looked "serious." Then a second call came in, threatening nearby Lincoln Elementary School.

"Two places," the caller said. "There is a bomb in one of two places. Salinas courthouse, Lincoln Elementary School. You'e got five."

Multiple agencies, including the District Attorney's Office, Sherrif's Office and the Salinas Police Department began searching for evidence of an explosive device or an active shooter and found none.

In their search, clues led to Castroville where 29 year old Ruben Torres was investigated and ultimately arrested for callling in the bomb threats.

He was booked into the Monterey County Jail on five counts of false bomb threats.

Torres pleaded not guilty in court Thursday, March 14. His preliminary calendar call is March 26 at 1:30 p.m. and his preliminary hearing is at 10 a.m. on March 28. 

 Torres' bail remains listed at $250,000.

UPDATE: 3/13/19 7 p.m. -- A man suspected of making bomb threats to the Monterey County courthouse is under arrest.

The Monterey County Sheriff's Office says Ruben Spencer Torres, 29, was arrested Tuesday night at his home on Sanchez St. in Castroville on charges related to making false bomb threats.

“Everyone wants to know how we got from point A to point B. We don’t go into too many details on these, but I will say all three agencies coming together all had little parts of the puzzle,” John Thornburg, with the Monterey County Sheriff's Office, said.

The three agencies that contributed to the arrest were the Sheriff's office, Salinas Police Department and the Monterey County District Attorney's office.

Torres is connected to bomb threat calls both Monday and Tuesday at the Monterey County courthouse.

According to the Sheriff's Office, Torres has a history of making bomb threats.

On Tuesday, Lincoln Elementary School in Salinas received a bomb threat, too. Authorities have not determined if he was involved in that incident.

The Salinas Police Department is also investigating whether the 29-year-old was behind the July 2018 bomb threats at Natividad Hospital. Natividad confirmed with KION that Torres was a former employee.

KION also spoke with a former co-worker of Torres, who said he remembers three different bomb threats were made when they worked together at Walmart in Salinas.

“The bomb threats kind of just clicked in my head, and I maybe wonder if he was behind those too,” Lyle Skeen said.

Skeen said he doesn't believe anyone was ever caught for the bomb hoax at Walmart. He was surprised when he heard the news of Torres' arrest.

“He was a very social guy, very outgoing. It was just a shocker to know he was behind this,” Skeen said.

KION went to the house in Castroville where Torres was arrested and the occupants declined to comment.





PREVIOUS STORY: 3/12/2019 3:16 p.m.

A bomb and active shooter threats were being investigated at the Monterey County Courthouse for the second day in a row. 

The Monterey County Sheriff's Office told KION the courthouse received another call from someone stating there was a bomb and that they would shoot up the place. 

The threatening calls came in around 1 p.m. Tuesday. 

Authorities believe the caller is the same person who made threats Monday. 

The courthouse was placed on lockdown and the scene was cleared around 3 p.m. 


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