Los Angeles authorities boost security after threatened rail attack

Posted at 9:34 PM, Dec 05, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-06 09:03:37-05

The threat of a terror attack against a busy commuter rail station in the Los Angeles area has prompted authorities to increase security throughout the region and urge commuters to report any suspicious behavior they see.

"Information was relayed this morning to the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force from our international partners that there was a potential threat," Deirdre Fike, assistant director of the FBI's Los Angeles office, told reporters Monday night.

She said the caller threatened to carry out the attack sometime Tuesday at the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority's Universal City rail station, which is near Universal Studios.

"We are right now looking at the credibility of the threat," she said.

Although authorities tend to receive such threats more often during the holidays, Fike said, they chose to tell the public about this one because of its specificity and because the attack was threatened for the next day.

The Universal City Red Line station is adjacent to Universal CityWalk, an area filled with restaurants, nightclubs and other entertainment activities and often crowded with tourists. Universal Studios and several high-rise hotel and office buildings are nearby.

Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies could be seen patrolling the area with dogs Monday night.

Mayor Eric Garcetti urged people to go about their business Tuesday, but to also expect to see more security at every commuter rail stop in the region.

"My advice right now is that everybody should go about their normal day tomorrow," he said. "In fact I'll be boarding the Red Line myself tomorrow morning at Universal City.

The line carries commuters from Los Angeles' San Fernando Valley to downtown's Union Station. About 150,000 riders a day take it and the Purple Line, which covers some of the same route.

Police Chief Charlie Beck and Sheriff Jim McDonnell said stepped-up security would include additional uniformed officers, including some with dogs, as well as officers in plainclothes.

"This could be real, it could be a hoax. But we must remain calm but vigilant," McDonnell said.

Both he and Beck encouraged anyone who sees anything suspicious to contact authorities immediately.