MANCHESTER, NH – Daniel Zeron told police it was meant to be a joke when he created an event page on Facebook calling for a riot and the tipping of police cars today (June 2, 2020) at the Manchester Community Shopping Center, 401 South Willow St.
Zeron, 19, of Ashland, may have been joking but the post resulted in about 200 calls from concerned citizens to New Hampshire Information and Analysis Center State Police and at least 100 calls to Manchester police.
Zeron was arrested early Tuesday morning on a charge of criminal threatening at a High Street residence in Ashland.
Zeron created the account with a username of “NewHampshireRiots”/”New Hampshire Protests,” and an event page entitled “Protest in Manchester, NH,” according to the sworn affidavit of Manchester Police Detective Brett Micah Fernald, who is assigned to the Joint-Terrorism Task Force.
Zeron did not use his real name, he explained in his post, to avoid being charged with “inciting a riot,” Fernald wrote.
Zeron also encouraged New Hampshire residents to take part in the national “#Fuck12movement. Minnesota is doing it. New York City is doing it. Atlanta is doing it. Many more are also doing it. New Hampshire can be a part of that is well,” he wrote on the event page which also included a picture of a burning police car.
In describing the event, Zeron called for the “masses” to meet at 401 South Willow St. and then to “march willow street and let our voices be heard.” He wrote “(P)olice cars will be tipped. Graffiti is welcome. Bring masks. Take examples from riots in other cities.”
Learning of the event page, Fernald reported the violent nature of the event to Facebook. That same day, May 30, 2020, Facebook removed the page event and account. Prior to its being removed, at least four people indicated they planned on attending the event, 27 people indicated they were interested in it and the event page was shared 25 times.
In the past week, Fernald wrote, “protests and riots, including tipping and burning police cars have taken place across the country” in response to the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, MN by a Minneapolis police officer. As a result, some states have activated the National Guard in response to the violence.
On May 30, 2020, Fernald contacted Facebook and made an emergency request for records based on the national emergency taking place across the country and the threat “to life and property in Manchester, NH.” Facebook immediately complied providing the account creator/user, along with the IP address associated with the account.
Fernald contacted law enforcement at the internet provider, Charter Communications, and filled out the required “Law Enforcement Emergency Disclosure Request Form” requesting the name and address of the subscriber. Charter provided the information along with a telephone number associated with the account.
The subscriber was identified as a 51-year-old resident of High Street in Ashland (the Inklink is not publishing details about the account holder as they were not charged with any crime).
On Monday, Fernald along with NH State Police Trooper Kevin LeBlanc went to the address to speak with residents, a husband and wife and their 20-year-old son. No one answered the door so they called the number associated with the account and reached the account owner, who was on a job site. While waiting for him to arrive, his wife, arrived home. She said besides her husband and son, that Zeron, her son’s friend, lived there. Police told her they were there regarding “current events” and she replied, “this is going to be about Dan,” because he had been vocal about going to Boston to protest.
Shortly after, the husband and son arrived home. Told of the Facebook event post, the son denied doing it or having any knowledge of it but said it was likely “Dan” who did.
He went in and woke up Zeron who admitted to the investigators that he created a fake gmail account (email@example.com) to create the event, created a fake Facebook account to create the event and then posted it.
Zeron said it was a joke and that he had taken it down. Fernald wrote he knew Zeron did not take it down because he had asked Facebook to take it down and it was removed eight minutes later.
Zeron is charged with criminal threatening under RSA 631:4 “in that he threatened to commit any crime against the property of another with a purpose to coerce or terrorize any person by posting on a public Facebook page that ‘(p)olice cars will be tipped” during a riot he was encouraging to occur on June 2, 2020, on South Willow Street, according to court records.
Zeron was arraigned Tuesday in 9th Circuit Court – District Division – Manchester. Officer Eric Desmarais filed a motion requesting Zeron be preventatively detained without bail. He argued Zeron poses a “danger to himself and others.”
Judge William Lyons granted the request, but scheduled a bail/preventive detention hearing for Wednesday at 9 a.m. A trial is set for July 6 at 10:30 a.m.
Zeron’s arrest was the result of a joint investigation led by Manchester police with the assistance of state police, Ashland police and the FBI.
“We cannot and will not tolerate any suggested riots or acts of violence against our community,” said Manchester Police Chief Carlo Capano. “The men and women of the Manchester Police Department work tirelessly to keep our community safe and the actions of Daniel Zeron undermine our efforts and leave our citizens in a state of uneasiness. We will work with our prosecutors to make sure Zeron is held accountable for his actions and we will push for the strongest penalties allowed by law.”