An attorney for Andrew Casarez, a 27-year-old Sacramento-area man who is accused of being the ringleader of an online neo-Nazi group, is arguing that the seizure of his client’s 9mm gun by sheriff’s deputies was unconstitutional.
In an opposition filed Aug. 10 in Sacramento County, criminal defense attorney Alan Donato argues that the court should not extend a 21-day temporary Gun Violence Restraining Order because the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office has not met the burden of proof establishing that his client is a danger to the community.
Donato claims the sheriff’s department violated Casarez’s right to due process and “fueled a media spectacle” that was used to “strip Mr. Casarez of his constitutional rights.” The attorney declined J.’s request for comment.
On July 15, the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office seized the handgun at Casarez’s residence in the suburb of Orangevale, where he lives with his parents and grandmother, over concerns that he would commit an act of violence after he was publicly outed by Anonymous Comrades Collective, a group of anti-fascist researchers.
The group’s July 7 blog post tied Casarez to the pseudonym “Vic Mackey,” the ringleader of the “Bowl Patrol,” an online group that glorifies violence against minorities, including Jews. The group’s namesake is convicted mass murderer and white supremacist Dylann Roof.
On July 24, the Huffington Post published an investigative report that provided evidence linking Casarez to the Bowl Patrol. The report also recounted online comments Casarez made in 2017 in which he appeared to “relish” acts of vandalism at an Orangevale synagogue and Sikh temple.
The sheriff’s department confirmed with J. on July 29 that Casarez is under investigation for the 2017 incident at Temple Or Rishon, where antisemitic fliers were posted on the outside of the synagogue building.
During the seizure of Casarez’s handgun, authorities say they found evidence that he was planning on building an unregistered and illegal weapon. They did not find any ammunition.
In a sworn affidavit, Casarez said that during the execution of the search warrant and restraining order, authorities “raided” his home and pulled his father over in his car and held him at gunpoint. The Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office did not respond to J.’s request for comment.
A GVRO allows authorities to seize weapons from individuals who pose a danger to themselves or the public, but who have not yet committed a crime. It’s a framework of statutes called “red flag” laws that were implemented in California after a 2014 shooting at UC Santa Barbara.
If authorities, through the court, succeed in extending the GVRO against Casarez, it will bar him from owning, possessing, receiving or purchasing any firearms or ammunition for up to one year. For the court to approve the extension, evidence must be presented showing that he has made threats of violence.
In the sworn affidavit, Casarez also said he had no intention of harming anyone and that anything he posted online to that effect was meant as a joke or political expression and not as an actual threat.