Crime

Kennewick man pleads innocent in college threat

A Kennewick man who bitterly left his job six years ago at University of California, Santa Barbara, pleaded innocent Thursday to allegations he threatened "the mother of all wars" on the college campus, its faculty and students.

Neil Paul Baker, 51, is accused of sending e-mails to college officials and posting hundreds of online "rants" since January 2007, all talking about how he wanted revenge for his forced resignation and his inability to secure another job since 2004.

He moved to the Tri-Cities after opting to quit, instead of being fired as an engineer in the school's nonfabrication lab.

Court documents show that in an October 2009 posting on Craigslist, Baker said he's facing financial destitution and its grave consequences and claimed the actions of school officials to destroy him are "attempted murder."

Baker reportedly doubted that he would "survive a retaliatory murderous assault on UCSB," but said his actions would be exonerated in a posthumous investigation as justifiable homicide.

"I may be harassed but I will not be intimidated ...," Baker wrote in December, according to court documents. "You should ponder the fact that rendered permanently unemployable by your criminal sabotage and smearing libel, I have no future and little to lose."

Baker is charged in Benton County Superior Court with threats to bomb or injure property. His trial was set for April 12.

He was arrested Feb. 15 at his Garfield Street home, four months after Kennewick police were first contacted by the UCSB police chief with concerns about Baker's online postings.

Campus police became alarmed after several postings earlier this month, including one Feb. 8 in which Baker said he'd be in Santa Barbara in a couple of weeks. They put out an alert Feb. 11, advising people to call police if Baker was seen at UCSB.

On Feb. 5, Baker wrote a fictitious news story about a mass suicide at UCSB where 13,000 faculty, staff and students killed themselves because of his rants and how he was arrested by Department of Homeland Security agents.

Two years prior, Baker wrote on Santa Barbara's Craigslist site that "the time has come." He then referred to the campus "with most buildings on fire, bodies (strewn) everywhere, several National Guard helicopters crashed and burning and three waves of Army assault forces wiped out. UCSB was to become the site of the mother of all wars ...," according to court documents.

That story in February 2008 also talked about the hanging of the UCSB chancellor "whose last thought is that an 'associate professor that I fired caused all this,' " documents said.

A day after that posting, Baker allegedly wrote that blame should be placed on "the irresponsible, unaccountable bullies at UCSB that thought they were being cute."

"Now, I'm so close and getting closer with really, almost absolutely, nothing to lose," court documents quoted Baker's rant. "I'm almost 50, my parents are deceased, I'm almost broke, any career prospects have been destroyed by the libelous Daily Nexus (university newspaper), I've been around the World with no desire to see it again, and I've had no desire for a woman since realizing I was a whore and that I had complacently allowed criminals to kill my fellow Citizens."

"If it was a choice between living as a coward slave-whore to seventy or going out at fifty as a free man in revolt, which would you choose? ... I'm ready," the rant added.

Thursday, Judge Vic VanderSchoor reduced Baker's bail to $15,000. He was ordered to have no contact with the UCSB campus while the case is pending.

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