A 30-year-old woman who police say wrote text messages about wanting to kill people and had expressed admiration for a white supremacist mass shooter pleaded not guilty Thursday to vandalism and hate crime charges in relation to a Jan. 22 attack on the Davis Islamic Center.
Lauren Kirk-Coehlo is being held on $1 million bail and faces up to six years in prison if convicted of felony vandalism with a hate crime enhancement, said Yolo County District Attorney Jeff. W. Reisig. Clad in a green-and-white striped jail jumpsuit and wearing her chestnut hair in pigtails, Kirk-Coehlo did not speak at the arraignment hearing in the courtroom of Yolo Superior Court Commissioner J. Kent O’Mara other than to agree to appear at a March 6 preliminary hearing.
A Feb. 23 date has also been set to discuss Kirk-Coehlo’s attorneys’ request to lower her bail and release her on her own recognizance. The woman’s private attorneys, Steven Sabbadini and David Dratman, declined to comment to The Sacramento Bee about the case.
Kirk-Coehlo was arrested Tuesday morning on suspicion of breaking six of the Davis mosque’s windows, damaging several bicycles at the mosque and wrapping pork around the handle of one of the mosque’s exterior doors, Davis police said. Muslims are forbidden to eat or touch pork.
Yolo Superior Court Judge Samuel MacAdam set Kirk-Coehlo’s bail far above the $40,000 called for in the bail schedule after receiving a declaration by Davis police Detective Daniel La Fond detailing the suspect’s social media and texting activity.
“I believe Kirk-Coehlo is an immediate danger to the public,” La Fond wrote about the suspect, an unemployed UC Berkeley graduate who earned her bachelor’s in English in May 2010.
La Fond wrote in the declaration that Kirk-Coehlo posted messages expressing her “dreams and aspirations” of mass murder and glorifying Dylann Roof, the 22-year-old man convicted of gunning down nine African Americans in June 2015 in a Charleston, S.C., church.
La Fond quoted a tweet from Kirk-Coehlo’s account reading, “3 cheers for Dylan (sic) Roof,” and said she commented on how “intelligent” Roof seemed in media interviews. A search of Kirk-Coehlo’s cellphone “showed her making many derogatory remarks” about Jews, African Americans and Mexicans, La Fond wrote.
Kirk-Coehlo also conducted several web searches about Alexandre Bissonnette, a suspect in a Jan. 29 mosque attack in Quebec City that killed six people and injured 19, the declaration said. In addition, she searched for information about bomb vests and said in a text exchange with an unidentified party that while she had not killed anyone yet, “I would like to kill … many people,” the declaration read.
In addition to mosques in Davis and Woodland, the suspect conducted online searches of mosques across the country, La Fond wrote.
The Davis mosque vandalism was one of several recent incidents in the Sacramento region targeting Muslim Americans. On Feb. 1, anti-Muslim graffiti was spray-painted on the walls of the Tarbiya Institute, a Roseville mosque. No one has been arrested so far in that attack.
A few days later, a package of pork tenderloin was left on the front doorstep of a Muslim household in Davis.
Some Muslims nationwide have reported being harassed after President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Jan. 27 barring all entry into the U.S. by visitors from seven predominantly Muslim countries for 90 days.