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.