Crime

SLO man arrested for alleged death threat against local Charlottesville vigil organizers

Daniel Phares was arrested on suspicion of making criminal threats.
Daniel Phares was arrested on suspicion of making criminal threats.

A San Luis Obispo man has been arrested on suspicion of making an online death threat against organizers of a vigil held last week in San Luis Obispo to unite against the racially charged hate and violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Daniel Joshua Phares, 45, who operates a landscaping business, has been arrested on suspicion of a criminal threat in a post made last Thursday on Facebook, which he later deleted, said Sgt. Chad Pfarr of the San Luis Obispo Police Department.

Pfarr said the note was posted among a thread of messages at the bottom of a Facebook post announcing the event.

“I’m not going to get into specifics about what it said, but it was a death threat against the organizers,” Pfarr said. “We were able to get screen shots of the comment before it was deleted.”

Pfarr said the note was posted a day after the event was held. When contacted by police Friday, Phares admitted to writing the message, saying he was venting his frustration but later had second thoughts and deleted it, Pfarr said. Phares was arrested Friday.

He basically was sick of opposing views to his. He said he thought it was better to vent than to actually do anything about it.

Chad Pfarr, San Luis Obispo Police

“He basically was sick of opposing views to his,” Pfarr said. “He said he thought it was better to vent than to actually do anything about it.”

It’s unclear when he deleted the post, but police believe it was late Thursday night or early Friday morning.

Pfarr said the comments were illegal because they threatened a crime and brought immediate “fear and danger” to event organizers. While several groups had a hand in the coordination of the event, police are working with three main organizers of the vigil for the purpose of the criminal complaint.

One of the event coordinators sent out a note Monday, informing the other organizers of the crime.

Phares did not carry out any attacks and nobody else was involved in the alleged threats, according to police.

Phares has posted bail. The District Attorney’s Office has received the police department’s recommendation but has not yet decided on its formal charges, prosecutors said.

Phares’ arraignment date is set for Aug. 31. Phares doesn’t have any criminal history in San Luis Obispo County, according to court records.

Tribune staff reporter Matt Fountain contributed to this report.

An estimated 1,000 people gathered Wednesday, August 16, 2017, at San Luis Obispo’s Mission Plaza for a vigil to support victims of the violent protests in Charlottesville, Virginia.

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