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Suspected Capital One hacker threatened to ‘shoot up’ social media company, prosecutors say

FBI agents. (Melanie Rodgers Cox/US Air Force)

The software engineer accused in a massive Capital One data breach that exposed personal information of millions of customers had recently threatened to “shoot up” a California social media company, federal prosecutors allege.

Prosecutors did not identify the social media company or the suspected Capital One hacker, 33-year-old Paige A. Thompson, by name. But they said that the target of an FBI raid on Monday at a South Seattle home had threatened a mass shooting at a corporate campus in May 2019, and it had been reported to Seattle police.

The reference to the threat is contained in a filing asking that Thompson’s housemate, Park Hung Quan, 66, be held without bail. He was arrested Monday morning during the raid that led to Thompson’s capture in a home Quan owns.

Prosecutors say Quan has a violent criminal history, including involvement in a murder-for-hire plot using explosives. They call him an extreme danger to the community and a flight risk, alleging that he may have been preparing to mix chemical explosives when he was arrested.

Quan was charged this week with being a felon in possession of firearms after federal agents said they found an arsenal of guns and explosive material in his room.

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“Quan has three prior firearms and/or explosives convictions. One involved military weapons, one involved a machine gun, and the most troubling one involved possession of explosives that Quan possessed as part of a murder-for-hire plot,” prosecutors wrote in the documents. “Many defendants are charged with firearms crimes — Quan is the rare defendant whose criminal history proves his willingness to use those weapons to kill.”

Prosecutors allege that in Quan’s bedroom, federal agents found “an arsenal of weapons, ammunition, and explosive material, largely unsecured and accessible to his housemates.” Among Quan’s guns, prosecutors allege, were several assault rifles, a sniper rifle, handguns, short-barreled weapons, high-capacity magazines, bump stocks, replica grenades, chemical precursors and explosive powder.

Federal prosecutors say that during the Monday morning raid at Quan’s home, FBI agents reported hearing Quan tell his restrained housemates that he had not yet had a chance to mix the precursors for RDX — an explosive chemical compound — prompting another housemate to say, “Shhhhh, shut up.”

Housemates later told The Seattle Times that they were shocked Quan was arrested. They said they knew he had guns but were not aware he was a felon and not legally allowed to own them.

During the raid, the FBI arrested Thompson, who is accused of stealing tens of millions of credit-card applications in a massive breach of Capital One data. Thompson has been charged with one count of computer fraud and abuse, according to a federal complaint.

The complaint says Thompson, who uses the online handle “erratic,” worked in 2015 and 2016 as a systems engineer at a cloud-computing company that rented space on its servers to Capital One. Thompson worked at Amazon Web Services, Amazon’s cloud-computing business, according to online resumes and her housemates.

She is accused of exploiting a faulty configuration in Capital One’s firewall to access the company’s secure data.

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In June, Thompson posted a list of files she claimed to possess and named a variety of companies, government entities and educational institutions, including Capital One, the complaint says. When someone responded to her post, writing, “don’t go to jail plz,” Thompson wrote that she wanted the Capital One files off her server, that the data was encrypted and that she had used a variety of tools and relays to conceal her computer’s IP address, according to the complaint.

Federal prosecutors said in the document requesting no bail for Quan that he “left his weapons unsecured, accessible to others. And he did so even though he was aware that his housemate, (Thompson,) suffered from mental-health issues, and that (Thompson) had threatened to commit suicide-by-cop and a mass shooting at a corporate campus. Quan’s reckless indifference placed countless people and the community at risk.”

Quan was convicted of being a felon in possession of explosives in 1983 and being a felon in possession of an unregistered machine gun in 1991, federal court records show.

In the 1983 criminal case, Quan and two co-conspirators were linked to a failed contract killing using a truck bomb made of dynamite, according to court records and news reports. The bomb, which the would-be victim found attached to the underside of his pickup in Ocean Shores, Grays Harbor County, had malfunctioned, The Seattle Times reported at the time.

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© 2019 The Seattle Times