By Krista Allen
Lake Powell Chronicle
PAGE – The Page man arrested for writing a racists social media post accusing Navajo people of carrying the coronavirus and calling for their deaths is set for a preliminary hearing on Friday afternoon.
Daniel Drew Franzen, 34, was arrested April 6 on suspicion of attempting to incite an act of terrorism.
Franzen will appear before Judge Cathleen Brown Nichols at 1:30 p.m. in the Coconino County Superior Court in Flagstaff. Franzen has been charged with one count of solicitation of first-degree murder through a premediated and intentional act, one count of use of electronic communication to threaten to inflict physical harm, and one count of disorderly conduct – fighting.
Page Police say they received reports that night of a Facebook post that urged people to use “lethal force” against the Navajo (or Diné) community because they are “100% infected” with COVID-19.
Investigators say they traced the post to Franzen. He was booked into Coconino County jail on a Class 3 felony, which has a presumptive term of 3.5 years in prison.
“The post was threatening in nature and directed toward Navajo community members due to the suspect’s stated belief that all ‘Navajo’ are infected with COVID-19,” Page Police Detective Terry TerEick said in a statement. “An investigation was immediately opened.”
According to local sources, Franzen has an intellectual disability and cannot control himself. He was a student at the Helping Hands Agency – a contracted provider for the Arizona Department of Economic Security’s Division of Developmental Disabilities – in Page, where he was reportedly difficult to control.
TerEick said any unlawful hate speech will be “aggressively investigated.” Page Police also said anyone who makes retaliatory threats against the suspect would be subject to investigation as well.