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May 22, 2019

Man busted in stalking of indie Brooklyn singer

September 28, 2018
Craig Finn (center) is seen performing with The Hold Steady. (Chris Pizzello / AP)

A disturbed computer data specialist obsessed with becoming a musician surrendered Thursday morning for violating two orders of protection issued after he was accused of Instagram-stalking the lead singer for a popular indie rock band from Brooklyn, police sources said.

Benjamin Campbell, 35, of Greenpoint, surrendered at the 94th Precinct and was charged with criminal contempt.

He was accused in a frightening stalking case in Aug. 2017 in which he threatened Craig Finn, lead singer for The Hold Steady, and Francis Bevan, part owner of Lake Street Bar, in Greenpoint.

A friend of Finn said Campbell has likened Finn to Jesus Christ.

According to court papers, Campbell used the Redangelsofnycity Instagram account to send Finn hundreds of messages, sometimes as many as 30 a day, for more than two months.

He allegedly sent Finn text messages threatening to murder the singer by slitting his throat then going to the band’s next show — which he vowed would be as “a funeral feast.”

He also allegedly threatened to kill Bevan, and sent him and Finn images of gravestones labeled with both victims’ names.

Finn told Campbell to knock it off, but Campbell wouldn’t back down, saying he had “the right of freedom of speech.”

Campbell pleaded guilty to aggravated harassment and disorderly conduct and was ordered to attend a mental health program. He didn’t complete the program, however, and a bench warrant was issued in June.

By then, however, he was being held in Texas, where he was busted in May, in Lake Jackson, for setting a fire in a hotel room.

Peter Kolp, Finn’s lawyer, said Campbell is “a frustrated musician” and that it appears he went to Texas because Finn, in a solo project, recorded a song called “Galveston.”

“He wanted to be a musician and he’s made notes that he wants to be in [The Hold Steady],” Kolp said.

Months before his 2017 arrest, Campbell became known to the band as a fan, according to the friend, who asked his name not be printed.

Campbell even paid $125 to buy the handwritten lryics to a Finn song he recorded as a solo artist, “New Friend Jesus.” Finn even personalized a note to Campbell to go along with the lyrics.

But Campbell’s infatuation turned frightening.

“He said The Hold Steady were a religion, Craig Finn was Jesus and a lot of bands that followed them around were all apostles,” the friend said, “and if he started a band that band would be next apostles.”

“That’s Mark David Chapman-esque,” the friend added, referring to the gunman who assassinated John Lennon.

In May 2017, the friend said, Campbell vandalized the bathroom at Lake Street Bar with glitter bombs, with Bevan later banning him from the bar.

The alleged threats followed soon after and police were notified.

Police said Campbell violated the order of protection against Finn by posting threats on social media. The friend said Campbell, with a tattoo of The Hold Steady on his neck, also sprayed graffiti on the building where Finn lives and left outside his apartment a package with books and song lyrics.

The order against Bevan was violated, police said, because Campbell wouldn’t stay away from the bar.

The Hold Steady is based in Williamsburg and formed in 2003.

Finn and Campbell’s lawyer could not be reached for comment. Bevan had no comment.

Campbell, who lives in Greenpoint, was expected to be arraigned late Thursday. The friend said he is originally from Ottawa and that relatives have told him he has mental health issues.

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