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Pepperdine President's Son Accused of Making Threats Against Family

Christopher Benton, 27, who remains behind bars on $250,000 bail, is accused of making threats against his parents and bringing a loaded semi-automatic handgun on campus.

The son of President Andrew K. Benton was arrested Thursday on suspicion of making criminal threats against his family and having a loaded handgun on campus.

Christopher Benton, 27, was taken into custody shortly after 11 a.m. Thursday at the university, according to Steve Whitmore, a spokesman for the L.A. County Sheriff's Department.

Benton is also accused of being an ex-felon in possession of a handgun and ammunition. The loaded semi-automatic handgun was found on a hillside and the ammunition was reportedly found in his car, which was also on campus, Whitmore said.

Deputies swarmed the campus, just days after freshmen arrived at Pepperdine. The first day of school for all students is Monday.

"We wanted to ensure the safety of the campus. It was safe at all times. This young man is in custody," Whitmore said.

Pepperdine University President Andrew Benton told the Pepperdine Graphic that they recognize he has made several harmful decisions in his life.

“We love our son and, perhaps, we love him even more as a consequence of the many challenges he has faced in his life. He has made a number of harmful decisions, especially those emerging from experience with drugs and poor choices in friends. We don’t know exactly how we arrived at this point, but we are a family and we will work through it. We hope this present situation is the beginning of a new path, and we pray fervently to that end,” Benton told the newspaper.

Pepperdine University officials confirmed the arrest in a statement.

“Pepperdine fully cooperated with law enforcement personnel to protect its students, faculty, staff, and visitors. The Pepperdine community is asked to remember the Bentons during this difficult time,” the statement read.

Benton had gone to his parents' home, which is on campus, on Wednesday, and allegedly made threats against them, Whitmore said. His parents called the sheriff's department, and deputies looked for Benton overnight.

When Benton returned to the family home on Thursday, campus security called the sheriff's department.

"The young man ran out of a side door and down a small hill," Whitmore said. "Our deputies retraced where he ran and that is how we discovered the weapon."

Benton, who spent time in a rehabilitation facility earlier this year, was wanted for questioning in the overdose death of 25-year-old Katie Wilkins in April. Investigators said Benton was likely the last person who saw Wilkins alive, based on surveillance footage that showed the pair at a McDonald’s restaurant on Pacific Coast Highway.

Benton was being held in lieu of $250,000 bail.

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jay lexer August 24, 2012 at 09:51 PM
Seriously, let me pray!
jay lexer August 24, 2012 at 10:15 PM
You say some rich benefactor will pay my legal bills, but only if the university is more anti-gay? Damn, talk about a win-win!
hellwood August 24, 2012 at 10:33 PM
America needs places where people can do drugs legally under proper supervision. we can all thank the war on drugs for all of the paranoid addicts sharing needles, stealing, and running around with guns...only the prisons benefit $$$$$$ ....cha-ching!
jay lexer August 24, 2012 at 10:37 PM
Damn, prayer really IS the answer. I wonder, is there still time to get myself to the Republican convention, to see how we can make women's choices for them. After all, we men know everything. Better pray some more.
jay lexer August 24, 2012 at 10:42 PM
Gladys, please tell the caller that I'm praying. But he wants to fly you on the new jet to the convention this weekend. Says you need a break. Also wants to make sure we are on the same page with our anti-Christian, anti-gay, anti-women policies.
jay lexer August 24, 2012 at 10:45 PM
Damn, prayer is THE answer. Hey, tennis at the Club anyone? Don't worry about leaving early, we'll pray on the way.
jay lexer August 24, 2012 at 10:53 PM
Gladys, one last thing. Call Jay. Leave a message to join us at the Club.
James Allan August 25, 2012 at 03:08 AM
Here are the facts as anyone on this thread knows them: Chris shows up at the Benton's house on campus and threatens his folks. They call the police who commence a search for Chris. As soon as Chris shows up on campus, the Sheriff is called and Chris is apprehended and taken to jail. When Chris is apprehended, he is found to have a gun and bullets. There is also every reason to believe that Chris knows what happened to Katie. Chris has apparently refused to talk to the police about this on advice of counsel. We don't have any idea the advice he is receiving from his parents, but Chris is an adult and cannot be forced by his parents to talk to the police. At some point, parents cease to be responsible for the actions of their children. Wherever that point is, 27 is after that point. It is clear that many of the people on this thread are upset with Pepperdine for unrelated reasons. But those reasons are unrelated and simply distract from the issues raised by the most recent events. There is nothing I can see in any news reports (and that is all the information any of us have) that the President intentionally or negligently put the Pepperdine community at risk. I can only imagine the pain that must accompany calling the sheriff and asking them to arrest your child on sight.
roberta ritter August 25, 2012 at 03:13 AM
I have known Chris Benton and the entire family since Chris was 4 years old. I remember a smart, dedicated, caring and sweet boy. The parents from day one were loving, caring, always there, apart of Chris's life to the fullest. IMPOSSIBLE TO BE BETTER OR MORE CARING. WHAT HAPPENED??? Seeing the change in Chris's life is so so sad. He has been in rehab...regrettably-- it was not the result we prayed for. I have seen this happen to other families in Malibu. A great chid gets into the wrong crowd.. or drugs,alcohol and personality changes happen...sometimes irreversible. Like cancer--some mental problems can be cured; others not; others in remission only. Let us support a family that has only been a great asset to this community. The Benton's have given a lot to the University and the City of Malibu as well. Malibu has grown magnificently in part because of their great efforts. Mental pathology is a difficult, very difficult, disease to treat. The Benton's need our love, support and appreciation for everything they have given Pepperdine and Malibu Take care dear Bentons.....all of the family...good luck.
be be August 25, 2012 at 03:15 AM
I have known Chris Benton and the entire family since Chris was 4 years old. I remember a smart, dedicated, caring and sweet boy. The parents from day one were loving, caring, always there, apart of Chris's life to the fullest. IMPOSSIBLE TO BE BETTER OR MORE CARING. WHAT HAPPENED??? Seeing the change in Chris's life is so so sad. He has been in rehab...regrettably-- it was not the result we prayed for. I have seen this happen to other families in Malibu. A great chid gets into the wrong crowd.. or drugs,alcohol and personality changes happen...sometimes irreversible. Like cancer--some mental problems can be cured; others not; others in remission only. Let us support a family that has only been a great asset to this community. The Benton's have given a lot to the University and the City of Malibu as well. Malibu has grown magnificently in part because of their great efforts. Mental pathology is a difficult, very difficult, disease to treat. The Benton's need our love, support and appreciation for everything they have given Pepperdine and Malibu Take care dear Bentons.....all of the family...good luck.
SB August 25, 2012 at 04:42 AM
James, the reports I've read say that the threat was made and reported to Police on Wednesday who were looking for Chris overnight. The campus was full of 18-year-old kids for new student orientation at that time. To my knowledge, no campus alert was made to warn people living on campus on Wednesday night. If that is the case, every parent of those kids deserves to know why not. Chris was not arrested until 11am on Thursday. I'd also like to know where Chris Benton was living throughout 2012. If he was living on campus, I think that would be a serious failure of judgement on the part of the President. Until we know the answers to these questions, I don't want to hear about how great Andy Benton is or how he needs our love, support and admiration.
daniel ardron August 25, 2012 at 07:48 AM
Nick, I think your comments were right on. We just took our daughter to Pepperdine, and were there while all this was going on. We didn't know about it until we returned home. What a downer for an otherwise wonderful week. We heard AKB speak Tues. night. He was quite compelling, but I'm not sure he should be involved in mentoring our daughter with his son such a mess. The appropriate thing for him to do would be to step down so he can clean up his own house, or at least move off campus so that his son doesn't come sneaking back to "finish the job." The worst thing they could do is bail him out, or have one of their wealthy friends do it.
daniel ardron August 25, 2012 at 07:58 AM
ann, maybe he devoted so much time and attention to his "university family" that he neglected his own kids. Christopher may have been a wonderful kid who took a wrong turn, but it sounds as if AKB has been in denial for some time. He certainly didn't waste any time covering for the kid instead of making him face up. If Chris had nothing to hide he'd have told the police and the Wilkins' family everything. I just became acquainted with AKB at new student orientation, and really thought his talk was compelling. Oh but that walk..... I really lost a lot of respect for him over this thing. We've always taught our kids that their actions are a reflection on us, their parents, so we take some ownership. AKB certainly is not doing that. I think he should step down so that he can put some effort into "cleaning his own house."
daniel ardron August 25, 2012 at 08:01 AM
My thoughts exactly. We stayed at a hotel, while our daughter was safely installed in her dorm. Oh, wait, she was at the library studying and didn't come back till later, and where was Chris again. Oh yes, wandering around somewhere on campus with a loaded semi-automatic weapon. Everyone safe here, boss......
daniel ardron August 25, 2012 at 08:04 AM
if hitler hadn't been an anti-semite, the holocaust wouldn't have happened. dumb people judging. If only we could walk a mile in his shoes everything would make sense. Nice comment katie buckett.
daniel ardron August 25, 2012 at 08:07 AM
Yeah, Katie. We just don't want the Benton problem to become our problem too. Our hearts go out to them; our prayers go out to him, but since we can be a little more objective, we are not as willing to enable, or obstruct justice.
daniel ardron August 25, 2012 at 08:08 AM
yeah, we are very angry. especially since we just left our daughter there yesterday.
daniel ardron August 25, 2012 at 08:20 AM
James, we're talking about the parents covering up for their kid, hiring a pricey lawyer and sequestering him in rehab on April 28th. We're talking about letting him come back home with open arms. They could have said "Chris, tell the police what you know. Take responsibility for your actions, or hit the road and don't come back." I think this failure to enact "tough love" is what has me and other parents of Pepperdine students ticked off. This guy is supposed to be someone we can respect and hold up to our kids as a role model, but we don't want our kid turning out that way. i know kids who act like Chris. Usually it's because their parents don't tell them "No" enough. Family should have moved off campus to a more modest dwelling so that Chris didn't feel so entitled.
jay lexer August 25, 2012 at 10:27 AM
Folks, you get to have your own opinions, but you don't get to make up your own facts. Who cares what kind of image Andy and Co. had in the past? What everyone KNOWS now ain't so good, and that's all that counts. Having a drug addict, gun-toting, nutjob (not ex, but current) felon, authority-evading and suspected murderer living on campus with the full knowledge and consent of the campus president. Really folks? Immoral. Terrible leader. Terrible Christian. Terrible role model. And, the worst imaginable example of who parents want to entrust with their kids lives. Leopards don't change their spots...then again, maybe they do with lots of dough and a full-time PR machine. I'm guessing the tuition-funded PR machine is just getting rev-ed up, and it only minutes befor we're believing he's Mother Teresa reincarnate. Sonny-boy will soon be back living on campus once this "terrible misunderstanding" blows over--just watch. Heck, they'll probably give him a scholarship, too. Or, we could all just pray it away.
Lisa August 25, 2012 at 06:46 PM
Why is a convicted felon with a "troubled past" allowed to live on campus with college students? How do you justify not alerting the students, faculty and staff about an impending threat that was serious enough to warrant a call to the police until after the fact? This whole situation could have had a very tragic outcome.
Martin August 28, 2012 at 12:34 AM
Get off the Benton's case! What did you want them to do? The son showed up, they called the police, he took off, was arrested when he returned. The gun was found outside. Did the Bentons even know he had a gun? How do you keep someone off campus? You act like the Benton's welcomed him home, knew he had a gun, and invited him to stay for hot chocolate. How many students have violent family members with police records who could show up anytime on campus with a gun. I have seen awesome parents with children addicted to drugs and I have seen terrible unloving parents who end up with awesome and loving children. Pat answers don't work with drug related issues. Coming down hard on the Bentons without knowing the inside story, the late night talks, how many hours they have spent with their son trying to steer him in the right direction is wrong. I'm sure the Bentons sat down with their son at some point in his early life and said, "Oh, BTW son, just want to let you know we're excited about you owning a gun if you ever choose to do so, and getting addicted to whatever, because we believe so much in our little golden boy, and now let us pray for the meal." And the Malibu community wants answers? WT* . . . . It just so happens that Malibu has addicts at every level of their uppity community, and they want answers? Give me a break. Many of you knew Katie, did ya? Maybe thats why she did drugs, she just couldn't escape her self-righteous, judgmental, and superficial "friends".
Martin August 28, 2012 at 12:56 AM
Prevention is impossible. Anybody can walk on any campus at anytime and kill 10-20 before anyone could even begin to get to them. A place like Pepperdine is an ideal target; uppity community, Christian tradition, upper class attendees, nice cars, etc.. Just makes a guy want to go and load his gun, snort some coke, and give the people who have everything a good piece of his mind. If he is going to die he wants to go out in a blaze of glory. The best means of prevention? each student and faculty member is issued a pistol of their choice, each person must complete a firearm safety class, and an extended course of accurate and defensive shooting techniques. Have them sign a honors code that if they see anyone firing at other people they must return fire until the person is dead. Thats an ounce of prevention
Terri August 28, 2012 at 01:40 PM
Where does it say he was living on campus? The article states that he went to his parents home, which is on campus.
JJ Smith August 28, 2012 at 04:43 PM
Does anyone know what happened at the arraignment hearing yesterday?
JJ Smith August 28, 2012 at 04:48 PM
As a 27 year old, married man, who has been arrested five times previous to this incidence (one a felony arrest according to news reports), Chris and his wife have been living in his parent's residence courtesy of Pepperdine University. He was checked in to rehab the end of April and obviously has been released since then.
Jen August 28, 2012 at 10:05 PM
They have known about his addiction and always bailed him out. He is a ex felon, they have paid more money then we know to cover up and bail him out. He has never had to pay for his actions. He is involved in way more then you know...he was a known drug dealer in the Malibu area, involved in 2 peoples deaths over the years involving drugs and BENTON has paid his way, covered it up and never held him responsible. Do not tell people to be kind. We were kind years ago when cops were coming on campus looking for in at age 15. We never said a word and kept quiet out of respect for Benton. People that work at Pepperdine know way more then the public and you know. Im sorry but we are done being nice. He is putting workers, students and the community in harms way. Benton should of put a stop to his sons actions years ago instead of covering it up for the sake of his reputation. I have lost respect for the Benton family. Its 12 years too late that they are finally making the correct decision to get him out of here and NEVER allow for him to come back.
Lorraine September 22, 2012 at 03:58 PM
Let's see. Chris is 27 years old. He has had drug problems for 14 years (makes him 13 years old). He was in trouble -on campus - at age 15. He's been around Malibu since he's 4 (?) He's married/ They live at his parent house on campus. He was with Katie Wilkins. He drove away with her car. He's been in an out of rehab. As an outsider looking in - this is a lot of years of trouble. His father became President 12 years ago - obviously a Professor at the school prior. Age 13 starting out on drugs --Age 15 the year his father became President, in trouble. Seems like something happened which was left untold within the family and outside the family.......................
Pam September 22, 2012 at 04:32 PM
You really need to choose your words more carefully. Murder? Do you honestly think every time someone overdoses it is alone? You need to see a little bit more of the world-start with downtown Los Angeles. Junkies do it all the time. They hang out together. The "Malibu Community"-well, Chris is/was part of the Malibu community, too. He has absolutely no legal obligation to speak to the sheriffs and don't you think they would have arrested him if they had a shred of evidence he forcibly shot Wilkins' up? What fool would talk to the sheriff when he had so clearly shown his bias. Katie's parents even wanted Chris' parents to talk to them. Are you kidding? What did they know? Were they there? The whole thing was beyond weird with the Surfside News doing weekly whole page articles on this guy. He, LIKE KATIE, is an addict. They did drugs. She died. That's the story. It's sad, but it's also sad how all the haters come out for this guy and his family.
katie bukett September 24, 2012 at 02:56 PM
I honsetly think this needs to be dropped everyone just keeps talking about it let it go now. he is in jail, are you people writing this kind of stuff to himwhile he sits in there??
katie bukett September 24, 2012 at 03:08 PM
Everyone is so called " safe" as you say. he is in jail. Let it go... What else do you want from malibu kids.. We were giving too much at a young age and used it the wrong way just like ryan o'neal's son Redmen. he was apart of our "crowd" and he went through and is still going through the same things. His mother left him 15 million dollars when she died and he was sitting in L.A. county jail... I had to get away from it all because i couldn't let my life get to that.. You people can calls us stupid little rich kids all you want but EVERYONE goes through their own battles.. Katie died because of the lifestyle. NOT fair but that's what always happens... The good die young.. She was one of my best friends in High school. we were always running around doing heroin, there were those good time when we were jus kids without a care in the world. Leave Chris alone he will aways be the one who pulls himself down, he doesn't need all you HATERS! I love all my friends but i keep a space between us because of all this drama. at one point of name was smached all over Malibu. Because of who i amand my parents.. it's just so sick.. Adny loves his son and is trying to do the best for everyone who this effects....R.I.P. Katie Wilkins xoxoxox

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