News UPDATED: Man Threatens Shooting at Anime Expo, Authorities Notified
posted on 2018-07-02 12:45 EDT by Lynzee Loveridge
UPDATE: Anime Conji chairman Allison Meyer responded to Anime News Network's request for comment regarding alleged threats by Alonzo Rodriguez at the convention involving a knife. Meyers stated that Rodriguez was not present at Anime Conji this June. Meyer's comment is as follows:
I have confirmed with my Board of Directors and staff (as well as cross referencing our database) that the individual mentioned was not in attendance at Anime Conji. I myself did not see this individual at any point over the course of the weekend, and received no reports- from staff, attendees or the hotel security that he was on site. In regards to Mr. Rodriguez, his behavior in the community is not a secret. While there was no physical documentation of his intentions at the time, due to record of his prior behavior at other events, my team had been advised that Mr. Rodriguez was not welcome on site. Had he been on the premise, Anime Conji would have had Mr. Rodriguez removed from the premise, and would have notified the proper authorities.
Anime Conji and its parent non-profit, SanSFIS, employ a strict Zero tolerance policy to any kind of threats and harassment, and do our best to respond with the appropriate measures for any incidents that are reported to us.
The original article follows below.
A man by the name of Alonzo Rodriguez sent at least one threatening text message to a friend, which have since become public, describing a potential shooting at an anime convention. Screenshots of the text conversation were originally shared on Facebook by recipient Robert Kampfy Grubbs but were then removed by the social media website. Facebook user Karen Huynh then shared the screenshots on June 8 where it was picked up by other social media accounts and distributed widely.
In the text messages, Rodriguez allegedly writes, "These cons are due for a high school shooting, by a high school kidd [sic]. I'm working on a case at the moment. Shit u [sic] not."
Due to the threat and Rodriguez's proximity to California conventions, concerned parties contacted Anime Expo's Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation (SPJA) to bring awareness to the situation. Anime News Network reached out to SPJA for comment. SPJA stated:
The Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation and everyone involved with Anime Expo take all threats of any nature very seriously and will always elevate them to the proper authorities to investigate.
When we were made aware of the potential threat implied online, we promptly alerted local law enforcement. They have and will continue to take appropriate actions in accordance with their procedures.
Just as in 2017, we are working with security teams and local law enforcement, including K9 teams and traffic control officers, to maintain the safety of our event. Additionally, as previously announced, we are utilizing RFID badges for AX this year and will have security checks at each entrance. We encourage attendees to check our mobile app and maps to get familiarized with the various designated entrances.
All attendees must have their prop weapons checked prior to entering the event area at the weapon check booths located outdoors prior to entering the event area. We encourage all attendees to notify staff of any suspicious activities, in accordance with the “see something, say something” campaign.
For 27 years, we have been proud of our commitment to providing the attendees of Anime Expo a safe and fun environment to enjoy their passion of Japanese pop culture. And, we know this will continue as Anime Expo evolves and grows.
Anime News Network reached out multiple times to the Los Angeles Police's Media Relations and Major Crime Division via phone and e-mail to confirm what actions are being taken to ensure AX attendee's safety and what, if any, actions were taken regarding Rodriguez. Those requests were not answered by press time.
According to Grubbs, this threat is not the first Rodriguez has made. Grubbs stated that he met Rodriguez in 2012, and believes that his temperament is tied to failed romantic relationships and that he engages in "bizarre behavior" in order to obtain attention. Grubbs added that Rodriguez has bragged about his ability to defend himself and is confrontational to others.
According to Grubbs, Rodriguez brought a knife to Anime Conji, a convention in San Diego, and "put the staff under duress" during the event. Anime News Network has reached out to Anime Conji staff to verify this event but has not received a response by press time.
Grubbs also stated that after the threatening text messages were sent, he spoke on the phone with Rodriguez. According to Grubbs, Rodriguez requested the addresses of people he perceived had "wronged him."
Last month, Rodriguez was brought on as a volunteer staff member at Ronin-Expo, a convention in Los Angeles' Little Tokyo district. Anime News Network spoke with Ronin-Expo chairman Danny Gonzales about the event. Gonzales stated that Rodriguez worked mostly as a go-fer who was brought on after another staff member knew staff was short-handed and that Rodriguez was in the area. Things seemed to be going smoothly until the Saturday of the convention, when Gonzales stated that two separate staff members requested that Rodriguez be asked to leave.
According to Gonzales, both staff members felt an "uncomfortable" vibe around Rodriguez and that something was "off". Gonzales relieved Rodriguez of his duties for the day and asked him to leave, but miscommunication between staff and security allowed Rodriguez to return with a panelist he knew under the claim he was helping them set up. Gonzales asked the panelist to keep an eye on Rodriguez and the event continued without incident.
this article has been modified since it was originally posted; see change history