As the Aurora Sentinel reports, police have arrested a man for repeatedly vandalizing the Tri-County Health Department and making some pretty explicit threats:
Investigators believe Daniel Pesch, 36, drew graffiti on the facade of the Tri-County Health office at 15192 E Hampden Ave. and repeatedly threw rocks through the building’s windows between April 15 and May 11, causing thousands of dollars in damage.
Police have recommended charging Pesch with felony criminal mischief and a pair of misdemeanors: defacing property and harassment, according to court documents.
Pesch’s name was not attached to an email sent to a Tri-County secretary May 5 calling for “a hot-shooting, no-bulls*** civil war,” according to documents provided by the Greenwood Village Police Department. County officials declined to pursue charges in that case.
For nearly a month, Aurora police allege Pesch sent derogatory and sometimes threatening messages to Tri-County Health officials over Facebook Messenger. The messages appeared to be sent from Pesch’s personal Facebook account and often referenced the recent vandalism at the Tri-County Health building in Aurora.
“Hope you’re enjoying putting small businesses under,” Pesch wrote to a Tri-County official April 11. “Enjoy your broken windows a******s,” according to the affidavit.
While this guy caused a lot of damage with his vandalism, we’re lucky that he didn’t move forward with any of his more violent threats. We don’t directly blame any of this on the actions or words of specific elected officials in Colorado; but we’re not going to pretend there isn’t some relation here, and neither should anyone else.
Back in March, a group of Republican lawmakers in Colorado were really mad at the Tri-County Health Department — which covers Adams, Arapahoe, and Douglas counties — for trying to prevent people from getting infected with the deadly COVID-19 virus. As the “logic” went, public health experts should not be making decisions about public health because they are not elected officials.
Six Republican lawmakers (Sen. Chris Holbert, Sen. Jim Smallwood, House Minority Leader Patrick Neville, Rep. Kevin Van Winkle, Rep. Kim Ransom, and Rep. Mark Baisley) signed a letter to the Douglas County Commissioners encouraging the county to terminate its contract with Tri-County Health Department in the middle of a freaking global pandemic because of freedom, or something. Douglas County Commissioners rightfully ignored this request, with one GOP Commissioner speaking out against the efforts of Holbert and Neville.
The Tri-County Health Department was, of course, acting in the interests of public health and not trying to disrupt businesses in some of Colorado’s most populous counties just for kicks. But other people no doubt heard a different message from Douglas County Republicans and nodded in agreement; the guy in the orange jumpsuit in the picture above may well have been one of those folks.
When politicians foment anger for the sake of appealing to a small base of supporters, it can have very real consequences. Words matter — even if they come from Patrick Neville — and no politician should take that truth lightly.