Suspect may face up to 10 years in state prison if convicted as charged
Terrell Lee Bennett, a 30-year-old Citrus College student, was charged with felony counts of making criminal threats and unlawful possession of ammunition in the Los Angeles Superior Court on Jan. 17.
Bennett was charged in connection to a 911 phone call he allegedly made to the Glendora Police Department (GPD) on Jan. 15 at 11:17 a.m., threatening that he was on his way to “shoot up” Citrus College, according to police. Citrus College was locked down for more than 6 ½ hours. Students were stuck sheltering in classrooms, unable to get access to restrooms.
Bennett, an online student, was scheduled for an in-person class on the day of the incident.
The GPD locked down the Citrus College campus and surrounding streets at 11:28 a.m. due to the threat of a potential shooter. Students, faculty and staff were alerted of the lockdown via text, email and call. They were instructed to switch off lights in classrooms and lock the doors. Authorities led a search for potential threats building by building.
Eva Nakoud, an art history major at Citrus College, said she heard banging on the bottom floor from her classroom shortly after the lockdown was in place.
“That’s when everyone started running around the room, trying to grab a bookcase to put in front of our door,” Nakoud said.
Other students from Citrus College recalled trying to reach their parents to let them know of the situation.
“I reached out to my family, my loved ones, and from there it was just kind of [a] wait and see [situation]. The next person who [may] come through that door is either friendly or not-so-friendly,” said Sean Horace, a business major at Citrus College.
Azusa Pacific’s Department of Campus Safety (DCS) received information of the threat from the Azusa Police Department (APD) at 11:41 a.m. and continued to monitor the situation.
The DCS issued a lockdown of the APU’s East and West campuses at 12:25 p.m. due to the obtainment of credible evidence regarding a possible explosive device being in close proximity to campus and nearby areas.
The GPD requested the aid of surrounding law enforcement agencies, including the Foothills Special Enforcement Team, a regional SWAT team and the FBI, according to GPD.
“At the time, out of an abundance of caution, we had everybody respond,” said Sgt. Shawna Celello of the GPD.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Bomb Squad was dispatched to the scene, although there were no bomb threats, according to Celello. The Bomb Squad found no traces of any explosive devices, according to the GPD press release.
Police located Bennett on campus, who surrendered and was taken into custody without further incident at 3:42 p.m. Bennett’s possible motive appeared to be suicide-by-cop based on the suspect’s statements and the investigation conducted by the GPD.
The lockdown on APU’s East and West campuses was lifted by approximately 4 p.m.
While waiting for the lockdown to be lifted, students at Citrus College were forced to remain in their classrooms and urinate in designated buckets.
“It made the whole room smell so nasty for like six hours,” said Nakoud. “I refused to use a bucket, so I had to wait and it was horrible.”
Students, faculty and staff were evacuated and released after the lockdown at Citrus College was lifted at 5:58 p.m.
“Even though it turned out differently, just even being a part of it was a bit surreal, and I wouldn’t wish that on anybody,” Horace said. “The thought of you potentially losing your life … It’s a little terrifying.”
The GPD was unable to comment on whether or not Bennett was in possession of any weapons at the time of the incident.
Bennett’s bail is set at $500,000. He faces a possible maximum sentence of 10 years and four months in state prison if convicted as charged, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office press release. The case remains under investigation by the GPD.