Donald Day Jr claimed he was “armed to the teeth” and would kill any law enforcement officers who came to his remote property in northern Arizona, a US indictment alleges.
“The devils come for us, they fucking die,” he allegedly posted online last year. “It’s just that simple. We are free people, We are owned by no one.”
Federal Bureau of Investigation agents waited for Day to leave his property early last Friday morning. He drove his grey pickup truck to a fuel station in Heber-Overgaard, alongside a Dairy Queen restaurant that offers a special discount on two egg, meat and cheese breakfast biscuits.
The FBI pounced, guns drawn, in the Dairy Queen car park, in full view of breakfast diners.
“They were in full tactical gear and camouflage vests with guns drawn,” a resident told the local newspaper, the Mountain Daily Star. “The FBI agents told the Dairy Queen customers to leave the area.”
Another woman told the TV station Arizona’s Family she “stopped and looked around and … saw in excess, it seemed, [of] at least 20 FBI agents in full gear, side arms, everything”.
“It really shocked me because we’re kind of a small community.”
Day was indicted by a grand jury in Tucson, Arizona last week on two counts of making interstate threats.
After the arrest, the FBI searched a remote property, about 30km north of Heber-Overgaard, where Day, 58, had been living.
The grand jury indictment details the online links between Day and the Australian couple Gareth and Stacey Train, who killed police officers Rachel McCrow and Matthew Arnold as well as a neighbour, Alan Dare, in Wieambilla, Queensland last year.
Those links, and Day’s subsequent alleged threats to target US law enforcement officers, may explain the decision to stage such a public arrest.
The indictment says Day had previously acknowledged owning firearms, including a rifle and a shotgun.
After the shooting at Wieambilla, Gareth and Stacey Train posted a video on YouTube that appeared to contain a reference to Day, who they called “Don”.
“They came to kill us, and we killed them,” they said in the video. “If you don’t defend yourself against these devils and demons, you’re a coward. We’ll see you when we get home. We’ll see you at home, Don. Love you.”
Posting under the username Geronimo’s Bones, Day allegedly then made a series of comments and posts that included the threat that, “like my brother Daniel [Gareth], like my sister Jane [Stacey], it is no different for us. The devils come for us, they fucking die.”
The indictment alleges the communication contained a “true threat of violence” and that the messages amounted to “a threat to injure … any law enforcement official who comes to Day’s residence”.
The indictment cites another video, also posted by Day on 16 December, which states “the only language that evil ever respects, responds to or understands … is the language of virtuous violence”.
He is charged with a second count, related to an alleged threat of violence against the director-general of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
Queensland police have described the Wieambilla attack – carried out by Gareth and Stacey Train, as well as Gareth’s brother Nathaniel – as a religiously motivated terrorist attack.
McCrow and Arnold were killed after they had attended the property to perform a welfare check on Nathaniel. Dare was killed after coming to investigate a fire that had broken out.
Later that evening, the Trains were shot dead by police.