GILROY (CBS SF) — Authorities arrested a California community college instructor, Alan Viarengo, with ties to the far-right, anti-government “Boogaloo” movement last week for allegedly sending more than two dozen threatening letters to Santa Clara County Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody.
“To the effect of, ‘It’s over,’ ‘You’re done,’ ‘Goodbye,’ ‘Eat (expletive) and die,'” said Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Brendan Omori. “He was relentless.”
A woman who spoke from a window inside Viarengo’s Gilroy home told KPIX that she did not want to comment.
Along with the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office arrest of the 55-year-old Viarengo, authorities seized large amounts of firearms and explosives from his family’s home in Gilroy, according to a press release. Court records reviewed by the station show detectives found more than 100 firearms and thousands of rounds of ammunition, tools for making ammunition and Confederate flags.
“There were guns and ammunition all over the house,” said Omori. “In closets, in safes, everywhere, just stacked up.”
Authorities charged Viarengo with felony counts of stalking and harassing a public official. He has not entered a plea as of Tuesday. His bail was revoked and he remains in jail, according to the sheriff’s office.
Viarengo also allegedly sent a disturbing letter to the widow of Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Damon Gutzwiller, who was killed in June by alleged Boogaloo-linked suspect Steven Carrillo. The 32-year-old Carillo, an Air Force sergeant from Ben Lomond, is also accused in the May murder of federal officer Dave Patrick Underwood, in Oakland. The letter contained language mocking Gutwiller’s death and wishing death upon more law enforcement officers, the sheriff’s office said.
“It’s quite disgusting to be quite honest with you,” Omori said.
Some in the Boogaloo anti-government movement have taken to protesting pandemic-related public health restrictions, carrying firearms and warning of violence, saying the directives by states and cities are a violation of their rights. The extremist movement uses an ’80s movie sequel as a code word for a second civil war.
Dr. Cody has been one of the nation’s most visible official proponents of stay-at-home orders, social distancing and wearing masks, which has led to threats and even demonstrations at her home.
She has previously acknowledged receiving threats, telling the San Jose Mercury News in July, “we’ve all taken more heat than we usually take. I try as much as possible to keep my head down.”
Investigators believe Viarengo sent 24 letters to Dr. Cody from April 8 to July 29 and some contained “Boogaloo” slogans and imagery, according to the police report reviewed by KPIX. The letters apparently became more and more offensive, aggressive and threatening.
“I’m glad you are getting threats,” the person wrote in a June letter, according to the police report. “I posted your residence everywhere I could; I hope someone follows through.”
The report indicates that on July 29, detectives tracking Viarengo watched as he drove a black Tesla Model 3 to a mailbox and dropped a letter inside. The letter was addressed to Cody and mocked her handling of the pandemic. He was arrested a month later.
San Jose attorney Cody Salfen defended Viarengo as a “dedicated father, husband, community activist, respected professor, and volunteer” and blasted the prosecution and law enforcement for its heavy-handed tactics.
“At this time we have allegations,” Salfen said. “Allegations are not facts.”
In a message to faculty and students on Tuesday, the superintendent and president of the Gavilan Joint Community College District said the charges are not related to Viarengo’s work there.
“As members of the college community, however, we are shocked and saddened by what took place, and will cooperate with law enforcement fully if it is required,” said Kathleen A. Rose in a message provided to The Associated Press.