Prateek Devulpally is the 18-year-old student accused of hacking into a female student’s email account to send a message threatening to shoot up CSULB, California State University Long Beach, authorities say.
The emailed threat led to a frightening sequence of events on campus the day before the arrest of Devulpally. Campus officials posted an emergency alert about a possible threat, asking students to shelter in place. Eventually, university police gave the “all clear.” They said a suspect was in custody. But they also deemed the threat credible, sending students into a panic behind barricaded doors, some of which they said would not lock.
More than 1,000 people have signed a petition demanding that the university make sure every door can lock.
However, the story then took a very unusual twist. First, police arrested a female student because they thought she sent the email, which threatened to shoot up the school. Then, they announced that they had arrested a male student – Prateek Devulpally.
Here’s what you need to know:
Authorities Say the Female Student Was a Victim
According to a jail booking sheet, Devulpally is being held on $50,000 bail. A motive for the alleged hacking was not released. University police Capt. John Brockie told the Daily49er that Devulpally and the female student do not know each other, and authorities do not think he was really planning for the threat to be carried out.
Authorities are accusing Devulpally of hacking into the female’s email account in order to send the threat. “She’s cooperating, it turns out she was a victim,” Brockie said, according to The Press Telegram. Devulpally was taken into custody at Peterson Hall 1 on October 8, 2019.
“The female suspect detained yesterday is working with the University Police Department and supports prosecution of Devulpally for creating and sending the threat from her email account,” CSULB said in a statement. “Through a diligent investigation, University Police detectives were able to determine the female detained did not generate the email threat.”
Devulpally has almost no online trail whatsoever, including no obvious social media accounts. There are some comments in his name online about things like AP testing. He comes up listed under a California elementary school as an alum. A person with his name played tennis in a California high school. That is about it.
The petition to produce locking doors reads,
With the recent event involving a credible threat to the California State University, Long Beach campus (10/7/19), it has come to the attention of the student body that some doors to classrooms and other campus facilities do not lock or only lock from the outside. Videos and pictures were posted via Twitter showcasing students putting desks, overhead projectors, and chairs in front of doors that do not lock. Students also tried to tie the doors together with cables or other items they had nearby. This is unacceptable and unsafe for CSULB students. This petition is designed by a CSULB student who agrees that doors need to have locks (and be able to be locked) in the event of such threats and/or school lock-downs. Sign this petition if you believe that university campuses need to have locking doors to protect their students from an active shooter or other.
“CSULB BeachALERT! The situation is ALL CLEAR. Shelter-in-place orders have been lifted. University Police currently have the sole suspect in custody. There is no ongoing threat, and the campus is open for normal operations. #CSULB,” police wrote on Twitter in the early evening the day before the arrest.
On October 7, 2019 at 4:17 p.m., the university wrote, “UPDATE: CSULB’s shelter-in-place continues. Police are actively working to resolve the threat. If not on campus, please stay away.” You can click here to go directly to the alert page. The campus was on lockdown.
A woman wrote on Twitter, “Hi @CSULB as a student who just spent an entire class hour terrified in a lecture hall with 3 exits, none of which lock, I think I speak for everyone on campus when I say an infrastructure update is needed. False alarm or not, this was emotionally taxing and terrifying. Thanks.” Another person wrote on Twitter, “#csulb is in a serious lockdown right now and I’m receiving messages from my friends on campus who’re saying they can’t even lock the doors in their classrooms. @CSULB @CSULBPolice This needs to change.”
The University Wrote That the Threat Was ‘Credible’
The CSULB Police Department revealed that officials were considering the threat to be “credible.” Police wrote on Twitter, before they gave the all clear: “CSULB BeachALERT! The campus has received a credible threat. Everyone on campus is to move indoors and shelter in place immediately. If not on campus, stay away until further notice.”
The Long Beach Post reported that the shelter-in-place alert was made, according to Cal State Long Beach spokesman Gregory Woods, out of an “abundance of caution.”