Updated with new information July 12 at 9:30 a.m.
A 23-year-old Concord man who threatened on a gaming website to murder “over 30” Jews and police officers returned to court this week to contest a restraining order that would extend a prohibition on his possession of firearms.
An emergency order that kept guns away from Ross Farca since his June 10 arrest expires on July 1. He appeared in court with a private attorney on June 26 to protest the new order, sought by the Concord Police Department, that would continue the prohibition for a further two weeks.
Police Department Lt. Mike Kindorf, who helped prepare the original emergency order, said Farca appeared ready to “oppose and fight our request.”
That new order was indeed signed by the judge, and is in place until Aug. 5, when another hearing is scheduled.
The move by Farca and his attorney highlighted what some in the Jewish community, particularly in the East Bay, say is a worrisome situation — that, according to a police investigation, a young man who professed admiration for the Poway and Christchurch shooters, who assembled his own AR-15-style assault weapon, and who on a gaming website detailed a plan to mow down “clusterf***s of Kikes” was released on bail days after his arrest and remains free.
A group of anxious parents and grandparents from the East Bay Jewish community attended a preliminary hearing in Contra Costa County Superior Court in Martinez on Tuesday. One father in the group described Farca as looking “creepy” and “disturbed.”
“I sat behind him in the courtroom while he was talking quietly with his lawyer,” said the individual, who wished to be identified only as a “concerned East Bay Jewish parent” out of fear of being targeted. “Reading about his boasts of body counts, I thought — this man wants to kill my son.”
Farca was arrested following a tip to the FBI about his online threats to commit a mass shooting and his boasts that he possessed an assault rifle, according to a court filing.
Farca used the screen name “Adolf Hitler (((6 million)))” on the video game site Steam to inveigh against Jews, and threatened to exceed the number of Poway victims in an attack while “wearing a Nazi uniform” and livestreaming it, like the shooter in Christchurch, New Zealand, but “with Nazi music.”
“I have a fully semi automatic weapon AR15 with multiple high capacity magazines,” Farca wrote, according to police. “Wanna see a mas shooting with a body count of over 30-subhumans?” He anticipated he could “probably get a body count of like 30 kikes and then like five police officers, because I would also decide to fight to the death.”
In a press release, police said a search warrant of Farca’s Concord home at the time of his arrest turned up an illegally assembled AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, several high-capacity magazines and “Nazi literature, camouflage clothing and a sword.” A Concord police officer later told J. that the literature included “some old-looking books” that appeared to be from the 1940s and “related to Hitler Youth.”
Farca was arrested and booked into Contra Costa County Jail on felony charges of making criminal threats, manufacturing an assault weapon and illegally possessing an assault weapon. Bail was set at $225,000.
Farca did not stay in custody for long. On June 13, Judge David Goldstein reduced the bail amount to $125,000, according to court records. The following day, Farca posted bond through a bail bonds company, paying a 10 percent fee.
His release just days after his arrest alarmed members of the East Bay Jewish community. An East Bay synagogue hired a professional guard for Shabbat services on June 21 and requested an increased police presence, according to a community-wide email.
Parents and grandparents who attended Tuesday’s hearing wanted to know why Farca was allowed out on bail in the first place. The father who had described the suspect’s strange court demeanor told J. that while exiting the building, Farca approached one of the grandmothers in the group, looked her in the eye and said, “I hope it goes well for you.”
“Then he walked away,” the parent said. “What did he mean by that? It was very bizarre.”
The concerned dad wondered why Farca wasn’t considered enough of a threat to be held without bail. But according to the county bail schedule, standards for being held without bail are quite high and include crimes such as aggravated murder and possession of a deadly weapon by a prison inmate.
“Under the law, he’s allowed to make bail,” said Scott Alonso, a spokesperson for the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s office. “It’s a very high burden to ask a judge to keep a defendant in custody on no bail.”
Still, Alonso said, “the charges in this case were very serious.” He said as part of the conditions of Farca’s release — in addition to the prohibition on handling firearms — he is subject to search and seizure by police “any time day or night.”
Farca’s attorney, Joseph Tully of the criminal defense firm Tully & Weiss, told J. that his client “did not intend to convey a threat,” and that Farca has posted other statements about himself that were not true. “It’s called trolling. In his mind he was not making a threat that he intended anyone to take seriously,” Tully said. Asked why Farca had an assault weapon in his home, Tully replied “He didn’t have any bullets.”
Bail in Farca’s case was reduced after being initially set at $225,000, approved by Judge Anita Santos on June 12 — $100,000 was allocated each for the charges of manufacturing an assault weapon and possessing an illegal assault weapon, and $25,000 for making criminal threats.
But in a hearing the following day, presided by Judge Goldstein, the bail amount was lowered by $100,000.
Alonso said the judge reduced the bail because two charges were related to the same weapon, and the California Penal Code prevents “stacking” of punishments related to the same criminal behavior.
“Basically, they were alternative charges for the same gun,” Alonso said.
Rafael Brinner, director of Jewish Community Security with the S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation, said he was encouraged by how swiftly authorities arrested Farca after receiving a tip from the FBI, which “averted a developing threat.” Brinner also said authorities continue to be “focused on mitigating any threat [Farca] might pose” after his release.
Still, some in the community remain uneasy. Farca’s next scheduled court date for the criminal charges is July 30.
The group of parents and grandparents who attended the preliminary hearing got a chance afterward to speak with the prosecutor, Deputy District Attorney Rachel K. Piersig. One Jewish parent was in tears as she told Piersig that she had taken her daughter out of school because she was so afraid of what Farca might do.
“It was very difficult,” the concerned dad said about the scene on Tuesday. “There was a feeling of real helplessness watching this person walk free.”