FOND DU LAC COUNTY, Wis (CNN) – There’s a sense of sadness at the Fondy Food Pantry where retired police officer and former Wisconsin DCI agent, Phillip Thiessen, has volunteered for the past two years. “He’s just a bundle of energy. Fun. Typical he would come in in the morning to help with the unloading of a truck and you’d say, ‘How are you Phil?’ And he’d say, ‘I’m blessed.’ Every time, almost every time” said Sylvia Reed from Fondy Food Pantry:
So to learn he was killed on a stretch of roadway last Friday night in what authorities are calling a hate crime is shocking to those who knew Thiessen. “Phil was a supremely wonderful human being who would help anybody. He would’ve helped him if he had a chance probably,” said Reed
The Sheriff Ryan Waldschmidt says Daniel Navarro admitted to hitting Thiessen head on just because he was riding a Harley Havidson motorcycle, “Navarro told detectives that he believed the person driving the motorcycle was white because in Wisconsin white people drive Harley Davidson motorcycles and that the Harley culture is made up of white racists.”
The sheriff says the incident had nothing to do with Thiessen’s law enforcement background and the two men did not know each other, “there’s no indication he targeted who was riding the motorcycle. He couldn’t tell who was on it. He had talked about that.”
Instead Navarro, who was in court Thursday for his initial appearance, told investigators he needed to kill people he perceived were racist, saying he believed he was being poisoned by his co-workers and neighbors as well as being taunted by others because he was Hispanic.
“Given the current social climate, the information shared today will undoubtedly lead to future conversation and discussions within our community. And I cannot stress enough that we want those conversations to be peaceful and respectful in nature and not lead to further tragedy or retaliation,” said Sheriff Waldschmidt.