College professor Alan Viarengo, 55, was taken into custody last week, before being charged with felony counts of stalking and harassing a public official. Investigators believe he is a member of the far-right ‘Boogaloo’ movement
More than 130 firearms and thousands of rounds of ammunition have been uncovered at the home of a college professor accused of sending a series of threatening letters to a California health official.
Alan Viarengo, 55, has been charged with felony counts of stalking and harassing a public official.
Viarengo, who is believed to be a member of the far-right anti-government ‘Boogaloo’ movement, is accused of penning 24 menacing letters to Santa Clara County Health Officer Dr Sara Cody over a four-month period, specifically targeting her for her response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Investigators on Tuesday released photos of the arsenal of guns authorities found at Viarengo’s home in Gilroy.
Investigators uncovered an arsenal of high powered weapons at Viarengo’s home during his arrest last week
Photos released by the authorities showed Viarengo had a collection of 138 guns as well as thousands of rounds of ammunition
His attorney has claimed all the weapons are legally owned
Detectives seized 138 guns, many of which appear to be high-powered semi-automatic weapons, and dozens of boxes of ammunition and explosives.
Santa Clara County Sheriff’s detective Lt Brendan Omori said the collection of weapons was so large they needed to load it on a pallet to take it in as evidence.
‘This individual had a significant cache of firearms and weaponry,’ Omori told NBC Bay Area.
Viarengo had allegedly sent letters to Dr Cody containing ‘misogynistic language, threats, pornography, and anti-government views,’ according to a police report obtained by the news outlet.
Omori said there is now reason to believe Viarengo had threatened other officials and residents.
Viarengo was denied bail during a court appearance on Tuesday.
Defense lawyer Dennis Luca argued the letters were protected by his client’s right to ‘free speech’ and said he never acted out on any alleged threats.
Police allege Viarengo penned 24 menacing letters to Santa Clara County Health Officer Dr Sara Cody (pictured) between April and July
Dozens of boxes of ammunition were found stacked in Viarengo’s home
Viarengo is believed to be part of the far-right ‘Boogaloo’ movement, of which members are usually heavily armed
He also said all Viarengo’s guns were legally owned and denied he was a part of the ‘Boogaloo’ group.
‘Like any other citizen has the right to write a public figure and voice displeasure with rules, regulations that are put into place,’ Luca said.
According to reports, the letters had also featured ‘telltale Boogaloo slogans and imagery’, prompting officials to believe Viarengo is tied to the far-right movement.
The ‘Boogaloo’ movement hopes to exploit social unrest to start a second civil US war.
Members are usually heavily armed, and two alleged ‘Boogaloo Boys’ have been charged with the shooting murder of a police officer and a federal security officer.
The publication reports that he works as a part-time math professor at Gavilan College in Gilroy.
It was also revealed Viarengo was once involved in the Boy Scouts of America. The organization issued a statement after his arrest, banning him from the program.
‘This behavior is unacceptable and goes against what the Boy Scouts of America expects of members and volunteer leaders. This individual has been removed from Scouting and is prohibited from any participation in our programs,’ the statement read.
‘Scouting members are expected to treat all people with kindness and respect, and there is no place in Scouting for violence, bullying or harassment of any kind.’
Back in March, Dr Cody made headlines after she became the first county health officer in the nation to order her community into lockdown.
The ‘Boogaloo’ movement hopes to exploit social unrest to start a second civil US war. Members are usually heavily armed, and two alleged ‘Boogaloo Boys’ have been charged with the shooting murder of a police officer and a federal security officer
The demand made the top doctor a divisive figure, and she received considerable backlash. But the threatening letters – allegedly penned by Viarengo – caused serious concern.
NBC Bay Area reports that Dr Cody received the first letter back on April 8, which stated: ‘We are stronger than you pigs in every way. We are out to defeat you.’
Over the next four months, 23 letters – all believed to have been written by the same person – arrived at Dr Cody’s office.
In one, the writer claimed they had doxxed the doctor by publishing her personal address on the internet.
‘I’m glad you are getting threats. I posted your residence everywhere I could; I hope someone follows through,’ they wrote.
‘You’re done…it’s over…say goodbye,’ another letter read.
A separate message read: ‘Maybe this is the spark we need for a bloody revolution!’
One message that turned up in June featured a drawing of an igloo on the envelope, accompanied by the words: ‘Let’s Boogie’.
In this May 2 photo, people, including those with the Boogaloo movement, demonstrate against business closures due to concern about COVID-19, at the State House in Concord, New Hampshire
Investigators believe they are specific references to the Boogaloo movement.
Viarengo reportedly has a history of penning intimidating letters and soon became a person of interest in the investigation.
Detectives began surveillance of Viarengo and reportedly saw him drop a letter inside a mailbox on July 29 that was addressed to Dr Sara Cody and ‘mocked her for her handling of the pandemic’.
Deputy District Attorney Alexander Adams said this week that he believes the letters link the accused to the Boogaloo movement.
‘That connection was made based on the investigation linking both the language and symbols used in the multiple letters that he sent.’
Viarengo has been remanded in custody, but has not yet entered a plea.
Attorney Cody Salfen says his client Viarengo is innocent.
‘He is a dedicated father, husband, community activist, respected professor, and volunteer,’ Salfen said.
‘Each year, he devotes over 400 hours of his time, guiding and teaching youth and other members of the Bay Area communities he serves. He works two jobs to support his family.’
Salfen also questioned the credibility of the Santa Clara County Police Department after a Sheriff’s Captain was charged with bribery.
‘Law enforcement officers directly involved … have serious credibility issues,’ he stated.
A member of the Gavilan Joint Community College District, where Viarengo works part-time, said the school was shocked, but the charges are not related to the accused’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.