SAN FRANCISCO -- A Santa Clara man with a stockpile of guns and explosives threatened to "assassinate" state Sen. Leland Yee over his proposals to tighten California's gun laws, the lawmaker said Thursday.
The threat came by email about four weeks ago and detailed exactly how the suspect, now behind bars, planned to carry out the killing. Though authorities declined to discuss the details, they said its explicit nature made it credible.
"The author stated that if I did not cease efforts to deal with gun violence then he would assassinate me in or around the Capitol," Yee, D-San Mateo, said during a press conference at the Hiram W. Johnson state building.
As he spoke police continued to search suspect 45-year-old Everett Basham's Santa Clara home. On Thursday morning police carried off "completed destructive devices," which were to be detonated elsewhere, said the CHP, which protects legislators.
So far authorities have found guns, explosives and chemicals to make explosives, said Scott MacGregor, chief of the CHP's protective services division. MacGregor declined to elaborate. Nor would he say whether Basham identified himself in the email.
The CHP investigation into the threats culminated Tuesday with Basham's arrest at a Sunnyvale home and the start of the search at his Santa Clara house. Since then he's been held without bail at Santa Clara County jail on a range of charges including threatening a public official, attempting
Basham is due in Santa Clara County Superior Court Friday for arraignment.
Basham worked briefly for Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, who called him a "brilliant" engineer. He urged people to withhold judgment about Basham.
State legislators occasionally receive threats, but this is the fifth time where Yee has drawn intimidation. In one case he criticized conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh for a controversial parody of the Chinese president. He also saw threats after his campaign to force officials to reveal how much they paid one-time Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin to speak at a California State University.
Yee said the threats have had no impact on his resolve to take on gun issues. But he noted the latest threat had a different and chilling tone.
They're not "racist ranting or deriding my culture and my heritage. Instead it was a rather deliberate and specific," he said.
It appears Yee's proposed law AB47, which would close a loophole in California gun law, is at the center of the these most recent threat against him. Yee's Chief of Staff Adam Keigwin said the gist of the threat was: "If you take my AR-15 (rifle) there will be consequences."
Yee's bill targets the "bullet button" loophole in the state's assault weapons ban, which allows manufacturers to sell weapons with magazines that can be replaced quickly using a simple button. It's slated for a hearing in front of the Senate Public Safety Committee in the coming weeks.
Thursday, members of the San Jose Police Department bomb unit used a special trailer that is capable of withstanding an explosion while in transit to move the handful of completed destructive device from Basham's home on Humbolt Avenue near Kiely Boulevard to a police facility for detonation. Other technicians continued to search the home.
A bomb squad on Tuesday buried devices found at the home, covered them with sandbags in the front lawn and detonated them.
Contact Joshua Melvin at 650-348-4335. Follow him at Twitter.com/melvinreport.