Pomona, CA – A former University of La Verne student has been busted for faking threats and an attack on herself, causing the university to cancel classes.
“I think she was trying to instigate some racial issues within the university,” La Verne Police Chief Nick Paz told the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin. “She was sending messages to certain people and the comments that were being sent were of a racial nature.”
The student was the leader of a social justice organization on campus.
In March of 2019, the university canceled classes after one of its students, Anayeli DominguezPena, alerted police that someone had placed a smoking backpack inside her unlocked car near the dorms, the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin reported at the time.
Campus police removed the backpack and extinguished the fire.
Afterwards, the university sent an alert to students explaining that the owner of the vehicle “had previously reported receiving race-based threats of violence via social media,” according to the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin.
A little over two months later, DominguezPena claimed that a masked man attacked her from behind at a campus dorm, The Sun reported at the time.
Another student found DominguezPena lying at the base of a staircase and called 911.
“Somebody came up behind her [and] physically assaulted her,” La Verne Police Lieutenant Tom Frayeh said at the time. “We’re asking students to be vigilant.”
DominguezPena claimed she had also received threatening messages just days before the supposed attack.
On Monday, the La Verne Police Department (LPD) announced that DominguezPena, 25, had been arrested not only in connection with the smoking backpack incident a year earlier, but also for sending a threatening note and seven threatening social media or email messages, the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin reported.
Investigators combed through cell phone data, information stored in the Cloud, and computer files to conclude that the threatening messages had been sent by DominguezPena, La Verne Police Detective Bob Nishimura explained.
According to court documents, DominguezPena used a fraternity’s logo and other identifiers in the messages she created in order to cast suspicion on the fraternity and its president.
She sent the messages to herself and to another student who was also a member of the social justice student organization group DominguezPena led.
Police said that the other student did not appear to have any knowledge that DominguezPena was the one behind the threats, and that there was no indication that the fraternity had any involvement either.
“Throughout this investigation, no evidence as found linking the fraternity or any of its members to these crimes,” the LPD said in a statement to KTLA.
After concocting the hoaxes, she then applied for victim compensation through the California Victim Compensation Board, Det. Nishimura told the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin.
“We found the suspect applied for benefits, signed forms under penalty of perjury, and tried to get victim compensation benefits from the state,” the detective confirmed.
On March 6, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office charged DominguezPena with felony perjury, felony criminal threats, six misdemeanor counts of false report of a criminal offense, and one misdemeanor count of internet/electronic impersonation, according to the district attorney’s press release.
She was arrested on Monday, and pleaded not guilty to all charges the following day, The Inland Valley Daily Bulletin reported.
The former college student faces up to eight years in prison if convicted, according to the district attorney’s office.
DominguezPena’s attorney could not be reached for comment, The Inland Valley Daily Bulletin reported.