California man sentenced to jail over mass shooting threat at Los Angeles area fair

Authorities have said that Erik Villaseñor falsely warned about a mass shooting to get out of going to the county fair with his family.
Image: People walk in front of a deep fried food stand at sunset at the Los Angeles County Fair in Pomona
People walk in front of a deep fried food stand at sunset at the Los Angeles County Fair in Pomona, California, on Sept. 4, 2013.Lucy Nicholson / Reuters file

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By Phil Helsel

A Southern California man who falsely warned about a mass shooting in order to get out of going to the Los Angeles County Fair with his family earlier this month has been sentenced to 180 days in jail, prosecutors said Friday.

Erik Villaseñor, 24, of the Sylmar neighborhood of Los Angeles, pleaded no contest on Thursday to one misdemeanor count of false report of emergency, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office said in a statement.

Villaseñor was sentenced to 180 days in jail and three years' probation, and he must also stay away from the fairgrounds for three years, the district attorney’s office said. A no contest plea is not the same as a guilty plea, but results in a conviction.

He also must pay $13,346 in restitution to the Pomona Police Department, prosecutors said.

The plea was part of a negotiated plea agreement. Police have said that Villaseñor admitted to the hoax, which was emailed to authorities Sept. 13 and falsely warned about a mass shooting at the fair on Sept. 15.

In the email, Villaseñor wrote, "Hello, I was told that someone was planning on doing a mass shooting on Sunday at the Fairgrounds. I just wanted to inform you guys already,” Pomona Police Chief Mike Olivieri has said.

The emailed warning came a little more than a month after two high-profile mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, that killed a total of 31 people, and around two weeks after a gunman killed seven people in a rampage around Odessa, Texas.