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Heightened security at Los Angeles transit stations after threat against Universal City station

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Posted at 5:43 PM, Dec 05, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-05 22:30:47-05

LOS ANGELES - An "imminent" threat against the Universal City Station along Metro's Red Line prompted area law enforcement agencies to beef up patrols Monday at that and other transit stations, while investigators worked to determine the credibility of the threat.

A caller used a public safety line to inform authorities of the threat, which was then relayed to the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force, FBI Assistant Director in Charge Deirdre Fike said at a news conference at the federal building in Westwood, where the FBI's Los Angeles field office is located.

Authorities were warned of a threatened attack Tuesday on the Universal City station, located along Lankershim Boulevard across from Universal Studios, according to Fike, who was joined at the news conference by Sheriff Jim McDonnell, Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck and Mayor Eric Garcetti.

"The threat is imminent as it's related to tomorrow" and involved the station off-ramp, Beck said.

Given the timing, its credibility could not be fully vetted before Tuesday, so law enforcement, acting out of an abundance of caution, beefed up uniformed and undercover patrols and released information to the public about the threat, officials said.

The added patrols will be evident to anyone using the Metro rail system and Garcetti said he would ride the rails on Tuesday as a show of confidence to fellow riders.

"My advice is right now everybody should go about their normal day tomorrow," Garcetti said. "In fact I'll be boarding the Red Line myself in the morning at Universal City at the stop there as a show (of confidence).

"... People will see a heightened security presence at some of the stations, police patrols at Metro stations and other places tomorrow, but don't let those frighten you. Those are there for your protection, and we meet threats with every possible precaution that we can.

"When someone says they want to cause harm to Angelenos, we pull together and make sure that it is nothing more than a threat and show force to make sure that anybody who would seek to inflict harm is met by the great law enforcement officials that we have here."

The timing and specificity of the threat also prompted officials to share the information with the public.

McDonnell urged residents to stay calm but remain vigilant.

"We've been running this to ground all day long," he said. "This could be real, it could be a hoax. But we must remain calm but vigilant. And we're asking the public to take the same precautions they would take on any other day. And we ask that people always be vigilant as they go about their daily routines. As far as actions we're taking, what you don't see is just as important as what you will see. You will see ... an increased uniformed presence especially at transit stations where we also deploy our K-9 explosive detection teams. We'll have undercover operations under way as well."

Officials repeated the mantra, "If you see something, say something," while urging people to go about their lives but to contact authorities if they notice something that doesn't seem right.

Residents can call (877) A-THREAT and officials urged people to download the LAPD's iWatchLA app from the department's website at www.lapdonline.org.