Man arrested for allegedly threatening county public health doctor

A Gilroy man was arrested on suspicion of sending threatening letters to Dr. Sara Cody, who’s the leading public health official in Santa Clara County on the COVID-19 crisis, sheriff’s officials said Tuesday.

Alan Viarengo, 55, was arrested at his home Thursday following an investigation that apparently turned up Viarengo’s fingerprint on a letter that made its way to the doctor. Also, investigators stopped one letter that Viarengo allegedly put in a U.S. Postal Service mailbox in Watsonville that was addressed to Dr. Cody. Viarengo’s fingerprint was apparently found on that letter.

Threatening letters began coming to Dr. Cody after she signed an order in March telling county residents to shelter-in-place because of the COVID-19 pandemic in the county, sheriff’s officials said.

The writer of the letters was irate and the content profane and she also got threatening emails and phone calls. The threats prompted the sheriff to create a security detail for the doctor. That detail collected, vetted, processed and documented threatening correspondence toward Dr. Cody.

According to the sheriff’s office, a steady flow of letters to Dr. Cody can be attributed to the same author.

Sheriff’s officials said the letters had an icon/reference to the Boogaloo movement, a far-right wing group known for pro-gun, anti-government and anti-police beliefs.

Investigators also found that Viarengo allegedly sent an upsetting letter to the widow of Sgt. Damon Gutzwiller, who was shot and killed allegedly by Steven Carrillo. Carrillo, a U.S. Air Force staff sergeant who was assigned to Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield, has been charged with also killing a Federal Protective Service officer in Oakland in May.

Gutzwiller was with the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office when he was killed June 6, while on duty. The letter sent to Gutzwiller’s widow mocked her husband’s death and apparently wished for the deaths of more law enforcement officers.

Viarengo’s fingerprint was found on that letter, too, according to the sheriff’s office. Investigators believe Viarengo sent 24 letters to Dr. Cody. The letters apparently became more and more offensive, aggressive and threatening.

Following Viarengo’s arrest, detectives allegedly found 138 guns, thousands of rounds of ammunition and explosive materials inside his home. Viarengo is thought to sympathize with the Boogaloo movement and may be associated with it, according to sheriff’s officials.

Viarengo was arrested on suspicion of stalking and threatening a public official. Attorney Dennis Luca, who is representing Viarengo, could not be reached for comment late Tuesday. Anyone with information about the alleged criminal offenses by Viarengo is asked to call the sheriff’s office at (408) 808-4500.


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