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Bay Area man accused of threatening to kill state senator

Authorities say Everett Basham was building homemade bombs. Police arrested him after state Sen. Leland Yee's office reported the threat. Yee backs restrictions on assault weapons.

February 13, 2013|By Michael J. Mishak and Chris Megerian, Los Angeles Times
  • Sen. Leland Yee received a threat in his government email account about four weeks ago.
Sen. Leland Yee received a threat in his government email account about… (Ben Margot / Associated…)

SACRAMENTO — A Bay Area man who authorities say was building homemade bombs was arrested this week for threatening to kill a state lawmaker.

Everett Basham, 45, was booked on multiple charges, including possession of a manufactured explosive and illegal possession of chemicals used to make explosives.

Police served an arrest warrant for the man after being alerted by state Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco), whose office said the lawmaker had been threatened with death for pushing legislation to restrict assault weapons.

The California Highway Patrol arrested Basham at a relative's home in Sunnyvale on Tuesday. Officers found a loaded handgun in his car, said Officer Sean Kennedy, a CHP spokesman.

Two hours later, a SWAT team searched his residence in Santa Clara, where members observed what authorities described as "pre-cursors to homemade explosives." Police ordered Basham's immediate neighbors to evacuate their homes as officers from CHP's bomb squad and the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office searched the residence and removed the chemicals.

Authorities detonated "a small amount of substances" that they were unable to identify after digging sandbagged trenches in the frontyard, Kennedy said.

Kennedy said the house was so cluttered that police were unable to finish their search and returned Wednesday, when they found "destructive devices." He said bomb squad officers were set to return with a bomb trailer Thursday to dispose of the devices. He declined to elaborate on what those devices were.

Basham is being held without bail.

A LinkedIn page that appears to be Basham's identifies him as a Silicon Valley engineer who once worked with Apple Inc. co-founder Steve Wozniak. In an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle on Wednesday, Wozniak expressed shock at Basham's arrest

"He's not the sort of person who is a criminal or a terrorist," Wozniak said. "He's just very brilliant."

The LinkedIn profile says Basham is a graduate of UC Davis and specializes in the "development of complex test systems." It says he is experienced in making presentations to venture capitalists looking to fund new technologies.

According to the profile, he owns a company that provides engineering expertise to governments.

A neighbor who answered the phone at a nearby house, but who declined to give her name, said Basham was a polite but quiet neighbor. "He don't talk to nobody," she said.

In his mug shot, Basham is seen wearing camouflage fatigues. The neighbor said he had mentioned being in the military.

Adam Keigwin, Yee's chief of staff, said the senator received a threat in his government email account about four weeks ago. Both Keigwin and the CHP declined to say why the suspect wasn't arrested until this week.

"The senator has faced threats before. No matter how small they are, we immediately hand it over to law enforcement," Keigwin said. "But this one was different than the rest. This one was much more graphic and explicit."

Yee, a former school psychologist, has been an outspoken advocate for gun control. This year, he is proposing more background checks and registration requirements and a ban on devices on semiautomatic weapons that allow them to be easily reloaded.

Times staff writer Evan Halper contributed to this report.

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