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Man Accused of Bombing Plot 'Hated Everyone'

Crime: Police say the student who allegedly planned a deadly rampage at his college had many angry, violent writings.

February 01, 2001|JOHN M. GLIONNA and REBECCA TROUNSON | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

SAN JOSE — Al Joseph DeGuzman, the quiet young man who had collected an arsenal in his bedroom and meticulously planned a violent rampage at his community college, "hated everything and everyone," San Jose police said Wednesday.

Police said DeGuzman, whose alleged plan to attack De Anza College in Cupertino on Tuesday was foiled just hours ahead of time, was obsessed with the deadly 1999 assault on Colorado's Columbine High School and the teenagers who carried it out, apparently taking the two as his role models.

DeGuzman, 19, allegedly planned for two years to attack De Anza's cafeteria and library, intending to kill large numbers of teachers and students. Acting on a tip from a drugstore photo clerk, police arrested DeGuzman on Monday evening.

Police said that in his bedroom at the San Jose home he shared with his parents and young sister, DeGuzman kept magazine clippings and photographs of the Columbine killers: Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. The pair killed 13 people before committing suicide.

"Eric Harris is God," proclaims a Web site that police say DeGuzman created. The page was taken down Wednesday by its administrators.

Investigators searching DeGuzman's room said it was filled with pipe bombs, Molotov cocktails and ammunition stuffed into bags and hidden under clothes, said Sgt. Brian Kneis of the Police Department's bomb squad. Police found a number of angry, violent writings, in which DeGuzman lashed out at politicians, teachers and many ethnic groups, including his own. DeGuzman is of Filipino descent.

"There were a lot of notes expressing a huge amount of personal anger," Kneis said. "But his particular brand of hate was hard to identify, just sort of anti-society and anti-institutional."

He and other investigators cited a second Web site, an America Online page in which DeGuzman praises "nihilism" and rages against Democrats, Republicans and political correctness. "I don't seem to care about anything anymore except having a [expletive] of guns, liking people who are politically incorrect, revolution, and having people get the [expletive] kicked out of them," one passage reads.

The details of the investigation emerged Wednesday as DeGuzman waited in the Santa Clara County Jail for his arraignment, set for today. He has been charged with multiple counts of weapons possession and manufacturing, and is being held without bond. Police believe DeGuzman acted alone, although he may have tried, indirectly, to recruit some of his friends, Miceli said.

DeGuzman's plot came apart Monday evening, when a photo lab clerk at a drugstore called police after developing photographs showing the young man posing with his arsenal.

"When I saw the pictures, I knew the guy was a weirdo," the clerk, Kelly Bennett, told reporters Wednesday. "The pictures showed guns, pipe bombs, Molotov cocktail and nails. . . . a picture of him with a gun on, dressed and ready to go."

"The anger in his face scared me," said Bennett, who is the daughter of a San Jose police officer. She called police, then stalled DeGuzman until police could get there to arrest him.

On Wednesday, Bennett was being hailed as a hero, at De Anza College and elsewhere.

At the college campus in Cupertino, just west of San Jose, two signs were placed Wednesday at the main entrance and in its central quad, thanking Bennett and law enforcement officials for thwarting the attack.

"We wanted to thank Kelly for being our hero," said De Anza President Martha Kanter, who said the college has set up a scholarship fund for Bennett, who is a freshman at nearby San Jose State University.

DeGuzman's family declined comment Wednesday, as they had Tuesday.

His new attorney, Craig Wormsley, said DeGuzman's parents were "concerned and shocked" by their son's arrest, but said he would have no other comment until he had talked to his client and read the police report.

Others who said they knew the young man expressed shock too.

Paul Ender, a retired teacher, said he knew DeGuzman well during his years at San Jose's Independence High School, where Ender taught yearbook journalism and graphic design. During his senior year, DeGuzman, who graduated in 1999, was one of five editors of the yearbook, which has won numerous national awards.

"I've taught hundreds of kids over the years and I could line up a handful of kids that I worried about, but Al was never one of those," Ender said Wednesday.

In the racially mixed neighborhood where DeGuzman's family lives, neighbors were still dealing with the realization that the young boy many had seen grow up could have contemplated such a crime.

"They seemed like such a good family," said Edith Padua, who said the DeGuzmans had lived in the neighborhood for more than 16 years. "We were just so very surprised. They were such a regular family. He was such a regular little boy, the silent type, maybe, but nobody expected this."

Throughout the day Wednesday, reporters and photographers knocked on the door of the DeGuzman home, a brown, one-story stucco residence with an overgrown frontyard. A voice inside told reporters to go away, that the family was not commenting.

"Everybody is in total shock in this neighborhood," said neighbor Gloria Moniz, 28. "I'm absolutely terrified. I hope they throw him in jail and throw away the key."

*

Times researcher Norma Kaufman contributed to this report.

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