SANTA CRUZ -- A 72-year-old transient is in custody after allegedly threatening to kill Rep. Sam Farr and blow up the county building in Santa Cruz on Monday.

Stephen James Brown approached Farr's two-person satellite office in Santa Cruz Monday afternoon and announced he wanted to take a staffer to lunch. When she declined, Brown became agitated and made his alleged threats, which were then reported to police.

"I think anytime you have someone in the office that's acting threatening, that can be viewed as a serious situation," said Adam Russell, a Farr spokesman.

The Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office, which is housed on the same floor of the County Governmental Building as Farr's office, put out an alert.

Brown was located by Capitola police several hours later, after a report of a disturbance at a military recruiting office on 41st Avenue. Brown was taken into custody after a short struggle, and arrested on charges of making bomb and terrorist threats.

Brown was booked into the Santa Cruz County Jail and is being held on $10,000 bail. Investigators say Brown had no bomb-making materials, and determined that he was not actively following through on his threat.

Farr, a Carmel Democrat who is in Washington, D.C., was never in contact with Brown. But in an era of increased political polarization, it is the fourth incident involving Farr this year to be reported to the Capitol threat assessment team -- all originating in California, Russell said.


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"I was upset to learn of the incident in my Santa Cruz office yesterday," Farr said in a written statement. "I view the safety of my staff and the safety of any visitors to the office as a top priority. I commend my staff for being able to calmly diffuse the situation and for getting the gentleman to leave.

"I am also thankful for the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office and the Capitola Police Department for their quick response in apprehending the gentleman."

Security around the county building, which abuts San Lorenzo Park and is a popular gathering spot for transients, has been an issue in recent years as both the Occupy Santa Cruz movement and a Santa Cruz camping ban have sparked long-term protests there.

Follow Sentinel reporter Jason Hoppin on Twitter at Twitter.com/scnewsdude

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