Authorities urge public to take verbal threats, other suspicious activity seriously

Authorities urge public to take verbal threats, other suspicious activity seriously

KENNER, LA (WVUE) - Tuesday a police car sat near Houston Marine in a busy Kenner strip mall. Last Friday it was a very different scene.

Kenner Police said before John Spears allegedly shot Anthony Tardo, a manager at the training center, to death, he spoke ominous words to a co-worker who was about to leave the location.

"John Spears said to him, hey, you know, you're leaving now and the employee said, yes, and when he said he said he was leaving early, he said well you're going to miss all the fun and he said what do you mean by that?  And he said well, and he said well I'm just going to go back and shoot everybody in the place," said Lt. Brian McGregor, spokesman for the Kenner Police Department.

Lt. McGregor said the worker did not take Spears seriously.

"They just thought he was just saying something, trying to be jokester or prankster," McGregor said. "They didn't think he was capable of doing what he did."

State and federal authorities say do not talk yourself out of reporting threatening words, or suspicious activity to police for fear of being wrong.

In San Bernadino, California where Tashfeen Malik and her husband, Syed Rizwan Farook, went on a shooting spree, at least one neighbor reportedly was suspicious of their prior activities, but did not alert authorities for fear of being accused of profiling. Farook and his wife were practicing Muslims. Both were killed in a shootout with police after the massacre in Southern California.

Law enforcement urges the public not to chip away a gut reaction to suspicious goings on.

"We investigate in secret so that we don't smear innocent people," said the nation's FBI Director James Comey. "We don't run over and bang on your neighbor's door. If you say something, we investigate. If there was nothing there, no harm done. If there was something there, great harm may be avoided."

The state has a fusion center that receives and shares all levels of intelligence with a goal to head off terrorism, and State Police have a number of ways the public can report suspicious acts. Trooper First Class Melissa Matey of the Louisiana State Police pointed out that tips can even be submitted through the "See Something, Send Something" app on your smart phone.

"If somebody sees something, or hears something that just doesn't look right we ask them to either get on that App where they can send photos, or a text to the Fusion Center and they vet all the information there," Matey said. "If they see something that just doesn't look right, if it makes the hair on the back of their neck stand up, if it doesn't sit well in their gut let us know, that's how we can prevent things from happening, not just here in our local community, but nationwide."

Whether it is in your neighborhood, your place of employment, or somewhere else authorities warn against over-thinking whether you should report something that seems threatening or suspicious to the police.

"Law enforcement is not asking citizens to investigate things, we're asking people to give us information," Matey said.

According to the Louisiana Fusion Center's website, there are seven signs of terrorism.

  • Recording or monitoring activities at a site
  • Attempting to obtain operation, security and personnel related information
  • Measuring reaction times to security breaches
  • Acquiring explosives, dangerous chemicals, and weapons
  • Suspicious person at specific locations
  • Behavior that appears to be dry runs
  • Placing people and equipment in position at a particular location

For more information, go to the Louisiana Fusion Center's website here.

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