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Islamic Center Suspect Faces Six Years and Is Being Held on $1 Million Bail

Davis Police Chief Darren Pytel announces arrest of hate crime suspect

On Tuesday, Davis Police along with the FBI and Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig announced the arrest of Lauren Kirk-Coehlo, a 30-year-old Davis resident, in connection with the January 22 incident that occurred just before 4 am.  The suspect allegedly vandalized the Islamic Center of Davis, smashing several large windows, then vandalized two bicycles and wrapped pork bacon around the door handles of the mosque. The repair costs exceeded $7,000.

While officials were guarded and light on details, Police Chief Darren Pytel indicated that Davis Police Detectives and FBI Agents served an arrest warrant at roughly 11 am.  “She (was apprehended) without incident, and booked at the Yolo County Jail.  Bail is set at $1 million.  No other suspects are believed to be involved in this crime.”

Chief Pytel said, “From the outset, this case was investigated as a hate crime by both the Davis Police Department and the FBI.  The FBI was called in to assist us in our local investigative efforts.”  He added, “Several of the criminal acts were caught on surveillance cameras set up near the mosque. Soon after the crime was reported, the surveillance footage was released showing a female suspect breaking the windows and vandalizing the bicycles.”

The chief noted that they had received numerous tips after releasing the video.  “On February 1st, Davis Police detectives and FBI agents served a search warrant at a residence located on the 2500 block of Corona Drive in Davis.”  He said, “Following the service of the search warrant we seized evidence and investigated the crime and that culminated in the arrest that took place today.”

The case has been turned over to District Attorney Jeff Reisig for prosecution.  The suspect is facing one count of felony vandalism under California Penal Code section 594(a)(b)(1) with a hate crime count enhancement for a hate crime under Penal Code section 422.75(a).  The second felony vandalism count is under PC section 594.3(b), vandalism to a place of religious worship “which is shown to have been a hate crime and committed for the purpose of intimidating and deterring persons from freely exercising their religious beliefs.”

Jeff Reisig told the press yesterday, “Based on the facts of the investigation that have been provided to my office by the Davis Police Department and the FBI, we have filed a felony criminal complaint against 30-year-old Lauren Kirk-Coehlo of Davis, California.”

He said, “To prove a hate crime enhancement the prosecution must show that the crime was committed in whole or in part because of the victims’ religion or ethnicity.”

He told the press that Judge Samuel McAdam on Tuesday morning “set bail in this matter at $1 million” and the defendant will be arraigned at 8:30 am in Department 1 on February 16.  If convicted, the defendant faces up to six years in prison.

FBI Special Agent Monica Miller

FBI Special Agent Monica Miller from the Sacramento Field Office noted, “The FBI is tasked with defending our civil rights and to work with our law enforcement partners to investigate crimes that target a victim because of race, ethnicity, or national origin, sexual orientation or religion.”

She said that while the Constitution gives us many freedoms, it does “not give us the right to commit criminal acts in the name of their political, their religious or their ideological beliefs. That is not freedom.

“Hate crimes impact the entire community and because of the long-ranging impact, investigating hate crimes is a high priority for the FBI,” she said.

She said that they help assist local jurisdictions even when federal charges are not brought.  She would indicate that, while they are monitoring the local prosecution effort, she would not rule out the possibility of federal charges at a later point.

She indicated that they turn over all evidence to the US Attorney’s Office, which makes the determination as to whether there will be federal charges.

“The local law enforcement is the first responder, we work jointly, and offer our assistance,” Agent Miller said.  “In this case, we were able and happy to help.”  She said there are federal hate crime laws that will be evaluated.  “It will take a length of time for the US Attorney’s Office” to evaluate this case.

Chief Darren Pytel indicated that Ms. Kirk-Coehlo “was cooperative during the arrest” but declined to comment on specifics of what she told investigators.

“We received quite a bit of information after we released the video surveillance and detectives were able to piece together aspects of the crime,” Chief Pytel added.  He noted that “at this point she is the only suspect and we don’t believe that other people are involved.”

Yolo County DA Jeff Reisig

Mr. Reisig told the press “in order to file these charges we had to be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt based on the evidence submitted to us by the Davis Police Department and the FBI that we could prove these charges.  We believe that.”

He did acknowledge this was an unusual case, stating, “My office in the last ten years has not prosecuted a case like this.”

Regarding the bail, according to the Yolo County Bail Schedule the defendant should have received about a $60,000 bail, but instead it was $1 million.  Jeff Reisig explained that the judge set the bail and “he was provided facts by the Davis Police Department at the time the arrest warrant was issued, I’m not privy to all of the facts that were provided at the time that he issued the bail, but I can say that based on the seriousness of this felony offense, the fact that it is a hate crime and that she faces up to six years in prison, it’s certainly a serious offense.”

Chief Darren Pytel declined to comment on Kirk-Coehlo’s relationship to a judge.  The Vanguard later learned that she is the daughter of an administrative law judge in Sacramento.

He indicated that this remains an active investigation, they are still in the early stages of the prosecution, and they are simply not able to release all of the pertinent details at this time.

Chief Pytel would add, “Hate is not something that is viable here in Davis and we will stand up and denounce it.  We take these crimes very (seriously).”

CAIR-SV (Council on American-Islamic Relations, Sacramento Valley) in a release said that they welcomed the arrest in the hate crime investigation.

CAIR-SV Executive Director Basim Elkarra said: “CAIR and the American Muslim community thank the Davis Police Department, the FBI and the Yolo County District Attorney’s office for their swift investigation and arrest in the case. We also extend our gratitude to the UC Davis and City of Davis community for their tremendous show of support to the Muslim community in the aftermath of the incident.”

Islamic Center of Davis President Amr Zedan said: “On behalf of the Islamic Center of Davis and the Muslim community, we would like to thank the Davis and Yolo county communities for all their support and donations as well as our neighbors who gave us flowers and unwavering support. This incident showed the beautiful good will of Americans and that our communities stand united. As a Muslim community we are forgiving and merciful, but we hope that the perpetrator has the chance to reflect upon her actions and the grief she caused to our community.”

Hamza El-Nakhal a resident of Davis since 1969, said at the January rally in Central Park that he had already forgiven the perpetrator.  He said that “if we ever get to catch this woman, we just want to talk to her.  I really have forgiven her in my heart.  After you see all this love, in fact, I’m grateful to her.

“In my heart I’m completely at peace, I already have forgiven her,” he said.  “I just want to talk to her.   I don’t know what she feels in her heart, definitely she feels something not good.”

He attended the press conference and spoke to the Vanguard later in the day, indicating that he would like to have a chance to sit down with her.  He said that she probably had never interacted with Muslims previously.

While the Yolo County DA has taken a hard line, tough-on-crime stance, members of the community have suggested more restorative approaches in this case.

Mayor Robb Davis told the Vanguard, “Though this case will be prosecuted by the state, in the person of the District Attorney, this is not a crime against a disembodied state.

“It is a crime against real people—members of the Islamic Center of Davis,” he said. “They experience the harms in the most direct way as their deepest faith identity is attacked.”

The mayor continued, “Leaders of the Islamic Center have already expressed that they have a need to understand ‘why.’  They desire the opportunity to face the offender and ask some questions.  Questions like ‘why did you do this to us?  What were you thinking?  Do you mean us further harm?  Do you even know who we are?’  They would like a chance to show the offender that they are human.

“I truly hope that in the coming period that the process of adjudicating this case will include the possibility of a victim offender conference during which these questions can be answered, the offender can take responsibility, and the harms can be made as right as possible.  This is the vision of restorative justice that I believe is important to our community.  Such a process would need to be voluntary but it holds out hope that the victims can have their needs met and the offender, having acknowledged the harms, can be welcomed back into our community.”

As indicated, the defendant will be arraigned on February 16 at 8:30 am at the Yolo County Superior Court.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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56 thoughts on “Islamic Center Suspect Faces Six Years and Is Being Held on $1 Million Bail”

  1. Chuck Rairdan

    $1M bail? What a joke. This lady probably suffers more from mental issues than being a hardened criminal. On the other hand, when Wall Street bankers through their corrupt actions adversely affect the lives of millions, they are bailed out with taxpayer dollars. Hate based anything isn’t going to improve matters on the planet, but unless this bail level is mandated by statute, I’d say nice posturing.

      1. David Guerrero

        I agree with the wall street banker sentiment, but her admiration of Dylan Rouf (sp?) and the Canadian conservative christian terrorist who killed and injured those at the mosque there are quite telling of her intent to cause bodily harm to those of a specific religion peacefully practicing their right to worship. As a person who quite literally probably dodged a bullet by a local murderer who admitted to wanting to kill many people at DHS and eventually killed two elderly citizens, this bail is quite appropriate and just.

         

  2. Mike Hart

    I am curious if anyone on the blog knows this Davis HS and UC Berkeley alum… Was she angry at Muslims or a liberal trying to create a false persecution issue that will get national press?  If her anarchist credentials are in order and it was the later, we will see the ridiculous bail come down quickly…

    1. Keith O

      Mike Hart, I think some in the community are wondering the same things you are.  I see many have already jumped to the conclusion that this was done out of pure hate for Muslims which might be the case.  I choose to wait and see what develops because your scenarios of a “liberal trying to create a false persecution issue” and finding if she has “anarchist credentials” are possibilities.  She doesn’t seem to have much of an Internet footprint unless it was scrubbed sometime before the release of her arrest.  I think you’re on to something that her friends and acquaintances would be a good place to start to see if they have some insight about her politics. There’s too many people that have to have known about her that I’m sure her true intentions will surface.

      1. Mike Hart

        Not the first time that someone has tried to “create an issue” where there is none.  Remember that black church in the south with all the “Trump” spray painted on it that created such a fuss?  Yeah, it was done by one of their own parishoners.  It made the cover of all the national press when it was reported as a “hate crime” and made the bottom of page six in a little blurb when it turned out it wasn’t.  I hope that this was something similar and there is no one with so much hate toward a small church in our community.

  3. Alan Miller

    $1M bail? What a joke.

    So hate crime additions to crimes are stupid?  Am I mistaken, or are hate crime additions to crimes largely a “left” supported agenda?  And yet in reading the comments in yesterday’s column and today’s, it appears there is compassion from left-leaning folk towards the woman, and against the potential sentence and actual bail.  Yet isn’t that precisely because of the hate crime enhancements?

    I am not at either end of the political spectrum, don’t support hate crime enhancements, [because it’s oft prosecuted because some guy yells a racial slur while committing a crime because they are sloshed drunk (thus the racial hater smart enough not to yell a racial slur gets away with the same crime w/o enhancements)].

    I’m really trying to understand the thinking here . . . if enhancing for hate because hate is important that someone’s sentence/bail are brutally extended/raised, it seems contradictory to me to be compassionately saying this woman shouldn’t be so severely punished, and even speculating mental illness as a reason.

  4. Roberta Millstein

    If it was a Muslim person who vandalized a Christian church, would so many people saying “she probably has mental health issues” or arguing for clemency?  I’m not saying that I agree with $1 million bail or 6 years in jail, should she receive that sentence.  I’m just pointing out the disparity.  Here’s my view of the case:  I’ve seen a video and a high school photo and that’s it, so my understanding of her motivations or mental state is precisely nothing.  And unless anyone here knows her personally, I’m guessing that their knowledge is the same.

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      There are some elements here that don’t add up. The people who knew her seemed to think this was out of character. So the first question is this a manifestation of hatred or something else? My other concern is watching the video, she was so methodical and almost calm while doing it, that seems like a flag as well. So to me this isn’t clear cut by any means.

        1. Roberta Millstein

          Most probably, unless they found something really surprising when they searched her home that we don’t know about.  Again, I prefer to reserve judgment until I hear more.

    2. Howard P

      If it was a Muslim person who vandalized a Christian church, would so many people saying “she probably has mental health issues” 

      Well I know that is the first thing I’d think… no true spiritual person would attack a place where other spiritual people worship unless there was a problem with the cranial circuits… next question?

      Hamza has got this exactly right…

      No one was injured not truly threatened with bodily harm… the property damage was senseless, and has been more than covered by people like me…

      Roberta you seem to be more out for ‘revenge’, or something else, than truth or justice…

       

       

      1. David Greenwald

        The only small disagreement I have is I do think that the Muslim community, already feeling under attack, was harmed by this.  I agree with Robb Davis’ statement on the harms and how to resolve them.

        1. Howard P

          Yes, but Hamza doesn’t seem to feel ‘harmed’ per se… then again, he is a person of strong faith, and mature understanding.

          Hamza and Robb on on the right paths for resolution… ones that hopefully lead to both ‘truth’ and ‘justice’… glad you appear to recognize that… they are both people I’ve been privileged to get to know, and whom I generally respect…

      2. Roberta Millstein

        Roberta you seem to be more out for ‘revenge’, or something else, than truth or justice…

        Please refrain from attributing views to me that you have zero basis for.  I am not out for revenge.  I just hate the way that people rush to judgment, whether it be on the side of innocence or guilt, before they know what is going on.  (And to return to my original point, I hate the disparity in who is judged to be guilty and who is judged to be innocent in the absence of information – all the more reason to withhold judgment).

        1. Howard P

          If you will do the same…

          If it was a Muslim person who vandalized a Christian church, would so many people saying “she probably has mental health issues” 

          What was your “basis” for that? Did you not ‘rush to a judgement’?

          But you have more degrees than I do, so will apologize, and defer to your superior education/knowledge/intellect/judgement… you clearly have more wisdom in any matter you weigh in on… my bad…

        2. Roberta Millstein

          Me: If it was a Muslim person who vandalized a Christian church, would so many people saying “she probably has mental health issues”

          Howard: What was your “basis” for that?

          My basis is the observation that, statistically, when a Muslim/person of color commits a crime, they tend to be assumed to be guilty, but when a white person commits a crime, they tend to be assumed to be innocent or mentally ill.  The evidence is in all of the news stories, all of the recorded reactions.  It is a well-studied phenomenon and I am not the first to observe it.

          But you have more degrees than I do, so will apologize, and defer to your superior education/knowledge/intellect/judgement… you clearly have more wisdom in any matter you weigh in on… my bad…

          Please spare me you faux deference and your false implication that I am using my education (how did that enter in here??) or intellect or some other nonsense to defend my point of view.

    1. Ron

      I’m actually not seeing a lot of hatred expressed, as you noted (above).  Regardless, I think you have a point regarding hate crimes, in general. I’m not totally comfortable with the concept, within the legal system.

      1. Howard P

        Actually, “remand” (no bail) seems more logical than ‘high’ bail… at least until an initial ‘psych eval’… seeing the document makes me a tad concerned whether she might be as much (or more) a danger to herself than others… after all, only bicycles, glass, sensitivities, and bacon were actually injured…

        Am sure there is at least one poster who who disagree with that, tho’…

      2. David Greenwald

        Bail at $1 million is still on the high end, but no longer completely absurd.  I’m still of the belief overall that if she’s too dangerous to release putting down $6000, she’s too dangerous to release putting down $100,000.

        1. Howard P

          That’s exactly why I think “no bail”, until a psych eval is done… but looking at what she did, what she said/wrote/posted, her potential danger to herself is greater than potential danger to the public. Another good reason for remand/no bail…

          Ironic, based on one poster’s earlier comments, the “suspect’s” ‘hero’, was a nominal ‘christian’, who gunned down Christians, at the end of a scripture study he participated in… but then again as Ron says, she may be completely “innocent”… so we have no reason to opine…

    1. Howard P

      Roberta…

       so many people saying “she probably has mental health issues”

      Yeah we were wrong and you were correct to “call us on that”… good call…

      And, of course, we would have opined differently, “if it was a Muslim person who vandalized a Christian church, would so many people saying “she probably has mental health issues” or arguing for clemency?”… another “spot-on” observation… brava!

      1. Roberta Millstein

        Whether she turns out to have mental health issues or not, it is correct to withhold judgment until you have evidence, which is all that I ever said.  I take no pleasure in learning that she is a person who espoused white supremacist views and who has had thoughts of killing people.  I would have rather learned that this was something far more innocent.  But I did suspect that the authorities had some reason for setting the bail as high as they did, and thought we should hear what that reason was before we decided there was no (good) reason at all.

    2. Alan Miller

      Wow . . . not only Muslims, but in her own words “Jews, Mexicans, and Ni**ers”.  At least she’s an equal opportunity hater.

      This actually could be a “real” hate crime . . . as opposed to the “did they utter a racial slur” litmus I complained of earlier.  And as for the mental illness aspect . . . well, while not court evidence, certainly there is a major basis to believe that now.  And the $1 million, love or hate our bail system, makes some sense now.

  5. Dave Hart

    Curious, still, why the Sheriff’s Department is not willing to release the booking photo.  The latest revelations would seem to rule out the possible explanation that this person needs special protection from the public.  Why the departure from normal protocol?

    1. Keith O

      What’s normal protocol when the FBI is involved?

       The latest revelations would seem to rule out the possible explanation that this person needs special protection from the public. 

      What makes you say that?  If anything I would think that the latest revelations might lead to the person needing more special protection from the public.

      1. Dave Hart

        That is the point of my question.  She is booked in to the Yolo County Jail by the Yolo County Sheriff, so why would she not be subject to Yolo County Jail protocol?  I’m asking, not making a rhetorical comment.  I thought to myself, prior to the arresting officer’s request for higher bail, that if she were just a misguided person who is mentally ill and simply seeking attention with no other motives for the alleged crime, not releasing her photo would be some kind of tip of the hat to a person who is not so much a dangerous criminal as an ill person who needs protection.  Again, I’m asking a question.  Curiously, the Yolo County Sheriff doesn’t seem to feel like they need to answer a simple question.  That makes me even more curious.  Doesn’t it make you curious?

  6. Tia Will

    I agree with those posters who find no bail to be more appropriate than a million dollar bail until further evaluation. Either this is a dangerous individual, or she is not. That should be the sole basis for the decision. Does anyone believe that if a dangerous individual has access to enough wealth to make a 1 million dollar bail feasible that would somehow make them a better or less dangerous person ?

      1. Dave Hart

        Unless she has access to high capacity magazine automatic weapons, then…like Dylan Roof, she is also a danger to others.  Isn’t that the way it works?  And didn’t the Congress just remove a regulation to make it easier for mentally ill citizens to own or buy weapons?  Think I read that somewhere today…

        1. Dave Hart

          Allright, you guys won me over.  I say release her to the custody of a family member who can watch her and make sure she doesn’t hurt herself, the status quo ante.

        2. Howard P

          Will disagree with you Dave… releasing her to a relative that “can” get her help is very different from releasing her to one who “will” get her help… [yes Ron, am being a stickler for words used].

          Right now, I’d trust the County resources for eval, more than the family… after all, it appears they had clues and apparently did not act… I advocate for remand, and County eval…

          What’s the expression about someone to be “more pitied than scorned”?  When I previously suggested “shunning”, I did not have the sense of the depth of possible MH issues… shunning someone with MH issues cannot have a good outcome for the individual, nor for society…

    1. Jim Frame

      Does anyone believe that if a dangerous individual has access to enough wealth to make a 1 million dollar bail feasible that would somehow make them a better or less dangerous person ?

      I believe the idea is that $1M will ensure that bail won’t be posted.  Very few people can afford to spend $100k (10% of the bail amount, the legally mandated bond charge) springing a family member out of jail for a few months.  Had her father been Donald Trump or Bill Gates, I suspect that bail would have been substantially higher.

      The mental health issue will be duly explored as the case winds its way through the courts.  In the mean time, I think the lockup is the right spot for the suspect.

       

  7. Ron

    Tia:

    Agree with you, as well.  Not sure how the process works, or the level of discretion that judges might have (regardless of ability to access wealth).

    Well, probably not much else to say.  A long legal process ahead, I guess.  (Hopefully, one where our collective opinions/thoughts won’t matter.)

    1. Howard P

      A long legal process ahead

      I want to believe you are wrong, but I suspect you are correct.

      Hopefully, one where our opinions won’t matter.

      Amen.

      If  called to be in the jury pool (where opinions matter), if it goes there (and I hope it doesn’t),  think I could pretty much get myself excused … my gut is so torn… abhorrence for the act, and thinking justice would be better served by the Hamza/Robb approaches… with MH aid for “the perp”…

      Pretty confident that I’ll be a ‘lone wolf’ in those sentiments…

       

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            Most likely there will be a plea agreement here to avoid a six year prison exposure – that is assuming of course the police and investigators didn’t totally wiff.

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