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Police: ‘High chance’ of Hollywood mass shooting prevented

Guns and ammunition seized from high-rise apartment where several rifles were pointed at nearby park
This photo provided by the Los Angeles Police Department shows guns and ammunition that were found in an L.A. apartment. A man who reportedly made violent threats was arrested and investigators found a cache of guns and ammunition in his Hollywood high-rise apartment, where several rifles were pointed at a nearby park, police said Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023. (Los Angeles Police Department via AP)

A “high chance” of a mass shooting in Hollywood was thwarted Tuesday by police seizing a cache of guns and ammunition in a high-rise apartment where several rifles were pointed toward a nearby park, the Los Angeles Police Department said.

Braxton Johnson was taken into custody Tuesday after he allegedly made violent threats involving weapons to security staff at the apartment building and people outside, the agency said the following day.

A search of Johnson’s apartment turned up two assault rifles and high-capacity ammunition magazines, all of which are illegal in California, as well as three handguns, a sniper rifle, a shotgun and more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition.

Investigators have not said whether they uncovered any additional evidence of a plot to target the park, or Johnson’s motive in pointing the rifles toward the area. Details about the threats he allegedly made Tuesday have also not been released.

“From what we’re seeing right now, there’s a high chance that the officers – and obviously security staff and the people who called – prevented a mass shooting from happening,” LAPD Lt. Leonid Tsap said Wednesday during a news conference.

Authorities have not identified the park, but online maps show a dog park next to the apartment complex where Johnson lived. Attempts to reach the management company were not immediately successful.

The cache of guns and their setup in the high-rise apartment were reminiscent of the 2017 massacre in Las Vegas, where the gunman fired 1,057 bullets from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay resort in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. He killed 58 people below the hotel who were enjoying an outdoor country music festival on the Las Vegas Strip.

Johnson, 25, was arrested on suspicion of making criminal threats and he remained jailed Thursday on $500,000 bail. It was not immediately clear whether he had an attorney who could speak on his behalf.

The district attorney’s office is reviewing the case for potential charges.

Officers answered a report of a possible mental health situation Tuesday morning and went to the building on Gordon Street at Sunset Boulevard, an LAPD statement said.

Johnson was living alone in an apartment building on the 18th floor with large windows that offer an “unobstructed view of a park and a public area downstairs, and some of the rifles were pointed outside the windows,” Tsap said.

While Johnson was unarmed when he was taken into custody, Tsap said the weapons seized had “the ability to inflict a lot of damage to a lot of people.”

Johnson had recently moved into the apartment. He already was under investigation in a state on the East Coast for a violent crime, police said. They didn’t immediately share other details.

—Stefanie Dazio, The Associated Press

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