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Man suspected of plotting a mass shooting at UC Irvine is behind bars again — for now

Sebastian Dumbrava looks like an ordinary student at UC Irvine, studying computer science and applying for summer internships.

After his life was shattered, several Reddit posts led to police on campus putting him on a psychiatric hold, even if he denied writing it.

He sued the University of California Board of Regents, angry that his prospects of working for the federal government were likely to disappear. He tweeted about the suicide and about the “serious consequences.” He shared a quote about “blood on your hands” from the gunman who killed 32 people at Virginia Tech in 2007.

In January 2020, Dumbrava was arrested after police found a trove of ammunition, large-capacity magazines and parts to make an AR-15 in his room. Orange County prosecutors believe he intended to shoot the UC Irvine campus.

Because he did not commit violence or openly threaten it, Dumbrava was only convicted of possession of ammunition and illegal possession of a firearm.

He was released from prison after seven months. The judge in the case expressed deep suspicion that Dumbrava was not getting the mental health help he needed and was still at risk to others.

Days after his release, Dumbrava emailed a University of California official and a lawyer, asking for $ 50,000. Now he is in prison again, facing new charges.

Prosecutors are convinced he still intends to commit mass shooting at his alma mater. The new charges – which include emailed demand for money, described by prosecutors as attempted extortion, as well as reviving previous cases for possession of large -capacity magazines – led to maximum sentence of four years and four months.

Dumbrava’s case highlights the challenges of preventing a mass shooting – even after a potential shooter has come to the attention of law enforcement.

Dumbrava’s lawyer, Huy Nguyen, could not be reached for comment. Her sister declined to comment when contacted by phone.

“We charged this individual not once, but twice, with everything we could to charge him at the state level – and it wasn’t enough,” the Orange County Dist. Atty. Todd Spitzer. “He will continue to come out, and he will continue to make preparations to fulfill his promises to make a Virginia Tech-style shooting at UCI.”

Dumbrava’s parents divorced when she was 5. With her mother and sister, she left her three -bedroom home in Anaheim for a mobile home in Garden Grove, court records show.

Her mother worked as a nursing assistant, sometimes holding two jobs, according to records.

After studying at Orange Coast College, Dumbrava moved to UC Irvine in 2017.

In January 2019, Dumbrava was announced that he was a finalist for a summer job in the cyber operations program of the National Security Agency in Hawaii.

He seems to be on his way to achieving his dream of working in that agency.

But a month later, campus police discovered some unusual Reddit posts.

One included the address of Dumbrava’s dorm room and suggested that someone say “I’m about to kill … and get the 5K.”

In late March, an employee of the local newspaper received an email with the subject line “many will die.” Includes an image in a Reddit post with a photo of Dumbrava and a note that “he plans to take [a] shoot into campus and shoot people. ”

Dumbrava, now 30, denied making the posts and told investigators he was a victim of online harassment.

But campus police suspect Dumbrava may have planned to harm himself. They helped put him on a three -day involuntary psychiatric hold.

Dumbrava fears that keeping his record will prevent him from getting the security clearance needed to work in the federal government.

“Not only was I convicted without proof, I was effectively imprisoned in a life where I couldn’t fulfill my dreams,” he later wrote on Twitter.

In August, he sued the Board of Regents, saying the psychiatric hold was illegal and seeking damages for the loss of his career.

In early December, he tweeted a photo of a thread and wrote that he was thinking of hanging himself.

“I have nothing left to live for,” he wrote. “Repayment or compensation are the only solutions that will end my suffering.”

On Dec. 27, Dumbrava emailed two attorneys representing the Board of Regents, demanding a settlement of $ 600,000 per year for 30 years.

That same day, he bought $ 675 on a website that sells parts to make assault rifles, according to a UC Irvine police report.

Due to the psychiatric hold, he was banned from possessing firearms and ammunition.

After the purchase, according to authorities, Dumbrava tweeted a quote dedicated to the Virginia Tech gunman: “You pushed me into a corner and gave me only one option. It’s your decision. Now there’s more blood in the blood. your hands will never be washed. ”

Three days into the new year, Dumbrava drove to Arizona and bought large magazines and ammunition, according to the police report.

Arizona does not require background checks to purchase ammunition, but it is illegal for people to bring those purchases into California.

“Any further injustice committed against me has serious consequences,” he tweeted on Jan. 5th.

Less than a week later, police raided the Anaheim mobile home that Dumbrava shared with her sister and brother -in -law.

Inside a rolling trunk of his room, investigators found more than 1,000 bullets and more than 30 large-capacity magazines, as well as components for assembling an assault rifle.

So-called ghost guns can be built in a matter of hours from pieces purchased online or made using a 3-D printer.

Dumbrava was convicted in March 2021 of unlawful possession of a firearm and a prohibited person in possession of ammunition.

He was sentenced to three years and eight months in state prison, serving about seven months before being released in October.

The judge, Scott Steiner, suggested that Dumbrava should be placed in a “mental institution where he can be rehabilitated in a place where he is not a danger to people.”

“I want the record to at least reflect the deep sense of frustration that the court has no power to provide Mr. Dumbrava with the assistance he needs,” Steiner said. “Because he needs it.”

After her release, with an electronic monitor attached to her pelvis, Dumbrava fell asleep in her mother’s car in Orange County.

Days later, Dumbrava sent an email to an employee of the Office of the President at the University of California and an attorney representing the Board of Regents in his civil case, requesting that they immediately pay him $ 50,000 for housing. and transportation.

He once again used Twitter to share his side of the story.

“In 2020, I was preparing to do a mass shooting on the UC Irvine campus. My intent was to cause financial damage to the University,” he tweeted on Oct. 25. “I plan to continue shooting at students in once the University failed to provide compensation for my injuries. “

“I am and will continue to be fully devoted to my quest to return from The Regents of the University of California,” he said in another tweet.

On Christmas Eve, he shared a quote from the Oklahoma City bomber, who killed 168 people in 1995: “A man who has nothing left to lose is a dangerous man …”

In early January, authorities arrested Dumbrava after he failed to charge the ankle monitor and did not show up for the mandatory probation visit.

Dumbrava now faces seven criminal charges for email soliciting $ 50,000, which prosecutors mark as an extortion attempt, as well as possession of large-capacity magazines discovered in the police in his room in 2020. He pleaded not guilty and was held on $ 1-million bail.

The UC Irvine campus

The UC Irvine campus

(Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times)

Dumbrava’s alleged plot has aroused fear throughout the UC Irvine campus.

University officials say they are doing everything they can to keep students safe, including consulting with federal authorities about Dumbrava.

“We want commitment to the UCI community that campus safety has always been our priority, and there is no time that the campus is under any near -any threat,” said Tom Vasich, a university spokesman. “We will continue to take all possible steps to manage this issue.”

In one of Dumbrava’s last tweets before his latest arrest, he explained that more murder was on his mind.

A few years later, he said, he was skeptical about his plans, concluding that “it’s not good to kill UC Irvine students.”

Now, he writes, “things are very different.”

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