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Fond du Lac man charged with hate crime for allegedly crashing into oncoming motorcyclist

Daniel Navarro (Fond du Lac Co. Jail)
Daniel Navarro (Fond du Lac Co. Jail)
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FOND DU LAC, Wis. (WLUK) -- A Fond du Lac man intentionally crashed into and killed a motorcyclist last week because he believed the motorcyclist was white, Fond du Lac County Sheriff Ryan Waldschmidt said.

Daniel Navarro, 27, is charged with first-degree intentional homicide, hate crime and use of a dangerous weapon in the crash last week that killed 55-year-old Phillip Thiessen.

“Given the current social climate, the information shared today will undoubtedly lead to future conversation and discussion within our community,” said Waldschmidt.

Thiessen was found dead in the road on July 3.

Officers were called to the area of Winnebago Drive and Taycheedah Way in the town of Taycheedah, following reports of a head-on crash between a motorcycle and pickup truck.

The Fond du Lac County Sheriff's Office says Navarro hit Thiessen with the truck. Thiessen was not wearing a helmet at the time of the crash.

“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,” Waldschmidt said.

According to the criminal complaint, Navarro told police he had been a target of racism, because he is Mexican.

“People drive by his house and rev their engines and squeal their tires to try to upset him and that people make racist comments toward him, all because he is Hispanic,” said Waldschmidt.

Waldschmidt says Navarro went onto say he was harassed by co-workers and neighbors, poisoned, drugged and verbally attacked.

“He said that all the people that caused him these problems in his life are Caucasian or white,” he said.

Court documents say Navarro took his dad’s red pickup truck out in the country on the day of the crash.

But then he turned around, now driving on Winnebago Drive.

Navarro was heading east when he saw what he described as a white motorcyclist on the opposite side of the road, he then swerved into the westbound lane, hitting and killing Phillip Thiessen. Navarro also admitted to investigators, he had been thinking about doing this earlier that day.

Police say Navarro recognized the motorcycle as a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. According to investigators, Navarro said that, in Wisconsin, only white people drive Harleys and that he believes people who drive Harley-Davidson motorcycles are typically "white racists."

“He chose a motorcycle instead of a car, because he wanted the driver to die, and not just be injured or paralyzed,” Waldschmidt said.

Fond du Lac County District Attorney Eric Toney says it does not reflect how the entire community feels.

“One of the witnesses, recognizing that the victim was deceased, stayed with him until first responders could arrive, and that I think speaks more to the character of our community than the charges in the criminal complaint,” he said.

Thiessen served in the Marine Corps and also a police officer in Fairfax, Virginia, before moving back to Wisconsin. In Wisconsin, Thiessen was hired by the Wisconsin Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigations as an agent serving in the Internet Crimes Against Children Unit. Thiessen retired from that position two years ago and lived in Fond du Lac while continuing to volunteer at the Fondy Food Pantry, Sheriff Waldschmidt said.

In Fond du Lac County court Thursday, Navarro made his initial court appearance where bond was set at $1 million cash.

He returns to court July 17.

Authorities say the crash is still under investigation.

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The Fond du Lac County Sheriff's Office is asking any residents on Winnebago Dr. for any home surveillance video that may have captured the crash and moments leading up to it. They are also asking for those who knew Navarro to share with them any information about him. The community can call (920) 929-3390 with any information or video.

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