A Wisconson man who struck and killed a motorcyclist told investigators he intentionally crashed head-first into the victim because he believed all Harley riders are “white racists,” local officials said.
Daniel Navarro, 27, of Fond du Lac, has been charged with a homicide as a hate crime after he allegedly veered across a road around 6:45 p.m. last Friday to hit former Marine and police officer Phillip Thiessen, 55, on his Harley Davidson, the county sheriff said during a press conference Thursday.
“Navarro told detectives that he believed the person driving the motorcycle was white because in Wisconsin, white people drive Harley-Davidson motorcycles, and the Harley culture was made up of white racists,” Sheriff Ryan Waldschmidt said. “He admitted he could not specifically see who was driving this motorcycle.”
Navarro, who is Hispanic, told investigators during a 3.5-hour interview his attack was motivated by increasing instances of racism against him — though Navarro had never previously met Thiessen or known anything about him, Sheriff Waldschmidt said.
“Navorro told detectives he believed he had been intentionally poisoned by coworkers and by a neighbor; that people drive by his house and rev their engines and squeal their tires to try to upset him; and that people make racist comments towards him — all because he’s Hispanic,” Waldschmidt said.
He added that, “Navarro said if President Donald Trump and white people are going to create the world we are living in, he has no choice and people are going to have to die.”
Navorro also allegedly told investigators that he decided to crash into a motorcycle because there was a greater chance that he would kill the victim than if he had crashed into another car.
The suspect also said he “wanted to go to prison” so his parents would not have to take care of him “as his health deteriorates” and so he would be free of the people who harass him, Waldschmidt said.
The sheriff’s office declined to comment on Navorro’s mental or physical health.
Thiessen, a 1983 graduate of L.P. Goodrich High School, was a Marine who later served as a police officer in Fairfax, Va.
He later worked for the Wisconsin Department of Justice Internet Crimes Against Children unit before moving back to Fond du Lac for retirement in 2018, where he volunteered at a local food pantry.
“Phillip was a generous, caring, loyal man that made friends easily anywhere he went, and maintained long-distance friendships for many years,” Thiessen’s obituary reads.
“He believed in giving back to his community and was a volunteer at the Fondy Food Pantry.”
Navarro is being held on a $1 million bond on charges of 1st Degree Intentional Homicide, Hate Crime; Use of a Dangerous Weapon and 1st Degree Recklessly Endangering Safety.
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