A Mexican American man from Wisconsin has been charged with homicide as a hate crime after authorities say he intentionally hit a motorcyclist with his pickup truck because the victim was white.
Daniel Navarro, 27, was driving in the town of Taycheedah on July 3 when he moved into the opposite lane and struck a Harley-Davidson head on, the Fond du Lac County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.
The victim, 55-year-old Phillip Thiessen, died at the scene.
Navarro, who apparently did not know the motorcyclist, told police he had been discriminated against by his entire community. He said his neighbors and coworkers frequently harass him because of his race and other white people have previously poisoned, drugged and verbally attacked him, according to police.
“Navarro said that if President Donald Trump and white people are going to create the world we are living in, he has no choice and that people are going to have to die,” Sheriff Ryan Waldschmidt told reporters at a news conference Thursday.
The accused killer reportedly confessed to targeting Thiessen because of his race. Navarro told a sheriff’s sergeant at the scene that, “yes, it was intentional, sir,” according to a criminal complaint obtained by The Associated Press.
Another officer at the scene described the suspect as having a “thousand-yard stare.”
In an interview at the sheriff’s office, Navarro said he wanted to go to prison for the rest of his life so he could be free from the racist attacks he claims to face, authorities said. The man also told deputies he wanted to be free from drivers who intentionally rev their engines and squeal their tires when passing by his house just to make him angry, according to the warrant.
Thiessen was a former police officer and retired special agent with the Wisconsin Department of Justice. He was not wearing a helmet at the time of the crash.
Navarro told investigators he targeted a motorcyclist because he believed that people who drive Harley-Davidson bikes are usually “white racists” and he wanted the victim “to die, and not just be injured or paralyzed,” Waldschmidt told reporters.
He was charged with first-degree intentional homicide and first-degree recklessly endangering safety, both as hate crimes. His bail was set at $1 million during a court appearance Thursday.
With News Wire Services