Police Arrest 2 For Threatening Flyers

Less than 2 weeks ago, threatening political flyers were posted throughout Church Lane. Today, the Westport Police Department made 2 arrests. They say:

Through a review of surveillance video, detectives obtained footage featuring  images of 2 suspects. Both individuals were positively identified.

A juvenile was charged with breach of peace in the 2nd degree via a juvenile referral.

The second suspect was identified as Max Bernegger, age 18, of Westport.  An arrest warrant was sought and ultimately granted for Bernegger in connection with this investigation.

This morning, Bernegger turned himself in at police headquarters. He was charged with breach of peace in the 2nd Degree. He posted a $500 bond and was released. He will be arraigned at Norwalk Superior Court on the morning of Tuesday November 17. 

Two of the flyers posted on Church Lane.

46 responses to “Police Arrest 2 For Threatening Flyers

  1. Why not paste their pictures all over town so we know who they are?
    Don’t know their intentions but it was a sick joke that should be punished by more than a slap on the wrist.

  2. I agree with Ed. These kids need to face the consequences for what they did.

  3. I don’t know what their “punishment” will be, but perhaps they’d like to volunteer at the polls next month so they can observe what democracy looks like.

  4. Jonathan Berg

    They deserve at least as much punishment as they have coming to them, sure, but what a predictable waste of everyone’s time.

  5. Linda Montecalvo

    This young man has a YouTube post that reads “Red or Dead” and “God Bless America” !!!!! You are likely asking the same question I am… how could he have grown up in our midst and have such hate in his heart at such a young age – well, this is what has been given voice in America. Hate, division, delusion & manipulation of the truth. All we can do it VOTE and bring several people not from your neighborhood with you to the polls. These people exist in America – all we can do is put them back in the closet and take them out of our government.

  6. I’m shocked—shocked, I tell you—that a Republican is responsible for something hateful.

  7. I hate to say “I told you so”…Max was an outspoken Trump supporter in my high school class. So when are the adults of this town finally gonna realize that Westport has a serious racism problem?

    • James Waldron

      Westport a serious racism problem? Surely you jest! Our leaders just spent five hours condemning racism, problem solved!

      • I don’t think we’re racist. It’s economic. Most people of any color can’t afford to live in Westport. Isn’t that why affordable housing in towns was created? I graduated Staples HS ’79 and I didn’t go off to college and see black people and faint or go after that merely because I didn’t interact with a lot of black people in my life. Don’t listen to hysterics. If we all got along … Al Sharpton, Antifa, BLM and the ilk wouldn’t be needed. They’d be unemployed! I think Treason is the word when you threaten to kill the President like this guy did … and Madonna did for that matter. There are consequences for BAD choices in life. I don’t think people born after 1975 really understand that. Different values, culture and norms.

        • Please think before you comment. Clearly you aren’t aware that the perpetrator wasn’t actually threatening to kill the president, he was framing black people for it. And to claim that the intense racial divide is simply “economic” and due to “different values, culture and norms” without even considering that it has been intentional! Affordable housing has been blocked by our local government for years. Chip Stephens, who was part of Westport’s Planning and Zoning commission and is now running for state rep., said that adding more low income housing is “ghettoizing Westport”. First Selectman Jim Marpe’s argument agains low income housing is that “the developments keep him up at night”, claiming that these projects “challenge the character of our neighborhoods”. This isn’t just an economic decision or cultural difference. The people in power have been using racist dogwhistles and insinuating that people of color shouldn’t live in our town. When challenged, they cry out that Washington and Hartford are trampling over the decisions of our local government when its really the people like Marpe and Stephens that are causing the problems. There’s a reason you didn’t grow up around black people. Please actually look into the roots of systemic problems instead of ignoring them.

          https://ctmirror.org/2019/05/22/separated-by-design-how-some-of-americas-richest-towns-fight-affordable-housing/

          https://casetext.com/case/builders-ser-corp-v-planning-zoning-commn

  8. David Webster

    So as many of us suspected, the instigators were in fact, white local republican teens looking to stir the pot and make protestors and black Americans look bad. There were however, a vocal handful of people who used the flyers as an excuse to proudly say a lot of stupid things about both of those groups. I wonder if any of them will show up in these comments to walk back those hateful remarks now that the truth is known? I’m not holding my breath.

  9. Richard Vogel

    Nice GumShoe work by WPD. Thanks for trackin this loser down and bringin em to justice!!

  10. 28 Years ago, when I graduated from Staples, I barely had a political identity. My parents were sort-of 90’s Republicans (They’re not hard-core Democrats– Thanks Don!). This is not just political identity, this is anger– and this is where the division that’s been sown is frightening and saddening.

    While, I’m not surprised that a Caucasian, teenage male did this, I can’t help but wonder how he became so radicalized…

  11. John Hartwell

    What these kids did was stupid, and I’m hoping they do substantial community service as a penance. Beyond that I think the rest of us need to use this as a teachable moment and then let it go.

    • John, I agree that this should be a teachable moment, but perhaps letting it go so quickly is a mistake. Some thought should be given to how our community has managed to raise someone who would do something so (you say stupid), I would say: racist. Especially given that this kid was a member of a Staples student org, and we just heard another horrifying account from a non-white student at Staples of the racism he faces there frequently at Tuesday night’s RTM meeting.

  12. teaching moment for kids and for adults to agree to disagree on differences but stay within boundaries, and off social media or hateful public attacks. feel terrible for his family, and hope people realize this is not representative of the majority of this great town.

    • Seems like there are a lot of “teachable moments” happening over the last couple weeks. Second person arrested for a vitriolic act in the name of the President in the last two weeks. Perhaps along with the “teachable moments” there will be accountability.

  13. I know the Bernegger family well. Max made a huge mistake. All of you have a right to angry and rip him here. It’s what we do in today’s social media world.
    In Today’s world people like MARTIN, MONICA, AND JON can rip a kid to shreds without even posting your last names.
    Max’s father Mark and I have been friends for over 40 years. We both played sports in youth and at the high school level. Both graduates of Staples High School.
    Mark and I have been in constant contact since this incident happened. Max is a good kid, who screwed up very bad. With adults on both sides acting like adolescents, knocking down political signs, etc.
    Yet this does not make Max’s actions acceptable. Max is in the process of paying his debt to society. Max is a standup young man, and he WILL PAY HIS DEBT TO SOCIETY for his poor choice of action.
    Those of you compelled to continue to rip Max here, and it makes you feel good about yourselves, it’s your right and your place to do it.
    Remember we were all 18 and young dumb once too.
    To my friend Dan Woog, please if someone is going to stand behind the power of the keyboard, full name for proper footnotes, credits, etc should be required!! 🙂

    • And who is responsible for radicalizing a child to the point where he thought it acceptable to do something like this? I’m sure this is a fine family and kids make mistakes. But something is very wrong with our community, society, etc, if teenagers are getting radicalized to the point of criminality and adults are so angry they get arrested at Democratic Headquarters in Fairfield.

      Is there accountability for that, Jimmy? Or is this something that happened only in this kid’s head? I have trouble believing that it was.

      • Mark, I am not arguing with you. You are spot on with society, and the accountability factor. An 18 year old kid made a HUGE mistake. He is paying the price. We as a society have to do better, and be better. I don’t have the answer, you and everyone else has a right blast Max. Dan has provided the forum for everyone tee it up and hit the driver.
        This is a very very tough life lesson for this young man.

        • I appreciate your response, Jimmy. I don’t fault Dan– It is what it is. As David Webster said, we really should be looking at where this kid’s thinking got poisoned. I get it- He’s 18 and he’s responsible. But he didn’t arrive to this point by himself. The adults who gave Max a ride most definitely need to be accountable– Maybe more so than Max himself.

          Thanks again for responding. These are difficult things to talk about and I am glad we’re doing it without further vitriol.

        • So it was a right-winger who was trying to create racial strife. Jimmy, I give you credit for commenting after all of the comments you made on the post first reporting this.

      • David Webster

        That’s exactly my frustration too Mark. When people excuse this kind of thing as “kids make mistakes/he learned a lesson”, what they are really saying is “kid took the poisoned thinking he learned at home and went a bit too far with it”. The question you asked is exactly the one we should all be asking.

        How does a white kid growing up in a community with this much privilege and virtually no interaction with people of color end up with such a warped world view that he thinks this way? What exactly did his fine family teach him that made him think this way?

        This isn’t a “Why did he go too far” moment.
        This is a “How are so-called fine families in Westport creating racist children” moment.

    • Jonathan Berg

      Hey that was fun. Let’s hear from the Thugs and Animals guy next.

    • Actually, Jimmy, given the serious & potentially volatile nature of the crimes, I can absolutely understand why anyone — pointing out some significant facts that were surprisingly omitted from the police reports — would want to remain anonymous … I actually thought I knew this kid too, in fact, but sadly I guess I didn’t … 🙁

    • Hi Jimmy, My name is Monica Ryan. I was not hiding my last name. I registered my comment with my full email address. I did not “rip” anyone “to shreds”. I stated a fact about Max’s background. I made no argumentum ad hominem. These are not children. They are young men. And, yes, I was also 18 once. However, I never did anything hateful. I am raising three kids here in Westport. If any of my children ever do anything so horrible, I would ask the judge to impose the full and most severe punishment. This is how we teach our kids that what they did was wrong. Simply “being an otherwise good kid who just made a bad mistake” is justifying the idea of letting them off. Teach children about consequences! I don’t doubt that these young men have otherwise good qualities. People are dynamic. We need these young men to do MORE than pay their “debt” to society. We need them to actually LEARN something here. Regarding the social media commentary.. these young men acted in crime against society…. society has the right to react and comment on it.

    • You’re absolutely right, Jimmy. I did not receive notifications of comments, and just saw them. I’ve removed those of commenters who have not used full, real names. Thanks for giving this important back story.

      • Hi Dan. Can you put my original comment back up with my last name on it? I did not withhold my last name on purpose. And I clearly added my last name IN BOLD when called out on it. Thanks. Monica Ryan.

    • This is just another version of the “boys will be boys” defense. And I’m sorry, but it doesn’t come to this kind of behavior without parents’ acceptance and encouragement, or apathy at the least.

    • Ciara Webster

      jimmy, what has people leaving their last names got to do with anything ?
      Sounds like you might be saying if they did they could be subjected to nasty republican bias etc..
      well we all knew it was going to end up being a republican !
      I’d be less mad if it were a Democrat or a person of color!
      This is typical republican behavior, as was the jumping to conclusions last week by the right that it was going to be a Democrat or a person of color.

      I do agree that people do stupid things at 18 without possibly thinking through the consequences however to just shrug it off ( now that you have discovered it’s a fellow republican is just two faced and really unacceptable!

      If this had been a dem you’d have all been looking for blood !

      He should not be allowed to vote in this election
      Though thankfully in our very blue state his vote won’t matter.

      Let us all remember this incident when someone without connections does a similar thing.

      Oh and let us remember this next year when we are voting in Westport.
      I’m tired of the dictatorship in our town ! It’s a town not a kingdom.
      It’s time to make some very big changes around here.

      And they cannot come soon enough

  14. Who’s ripping whom to shreds? Racism is a youthful indiscretion? And you’re complaining that some people slipped in comments without posting their full names? “Footnotes”? Seriously? Nice attempt to pivot.

    • Tom- again you have the forum to judge, be angry, say whatever you feel. The young man screwed up, we all know it. You can take this wherever you want to go with it…no arguments here.

  15. Michelle Garvey

    Cursory view of Max Bernegger’s public Facebook page shows him to be quite right wing, this is clearly an attempt by the right to sow hatred and make it look like actions of the left. Sick and cynical behavior and very disappointing in our town.

    • Michelle, You have every right to be pissed off, mad, and call Max whatever you want. If his facebook page in your opinion tells his life story, views and the kid of person he is, you are entitled to Dan’s forum here to blast off.
      Remember, Max will be paying his debt to society. I totally understand your anger.

  16. Isabelle Breen

    I agree with Jimmy that we need some perspective here. These 2 young males, on the verge of adulthood, committed an act that created painful and unnecessary community upheaval and cost the town law enforcement resources . For that there has to be accountability. But this is also a VERY young person. Do we really respond with pitchforks and demand he be pilloried? We are better than that. Society advocates for the rehabilitation of criminals who commit crimes much worse that this. He should in no way escape punishment, but hurling anger at him will only harden his emerging extremist beliefs. As far as I know as a compassionate society we don’t write off our 18 year old kids.

  17. not too bad if u ask me

  18. Adam Vengrow

    jimmy izzo well said…. this is tough stuff.

    • James Waldron

      Agree av, well stated Mr. Izzo. The holier than thou attitude of people in this town and the way they perceive this town is sad. Maybe, ‘Head in the Sand, CT’ is available?

    • John McCarthy

      Are you still standing behind your Animals and Thugs post? Curious.

  19. eh its fine

  20. I am having issues cutting off comments. I will therefore disable all comments from all posts now, until this can be fixed. My apologies.

  21. The charges are puzzling. He was only charged with 53a-181 Breach of Peace in the Second Degree. I am wondering why the crime was not prosecuted as a hate crime under CT law, for example, as second degree threats, with enhancement as a hate crime? https://www.cga.ct.gov/2017/rpt/pdf/2017-R-0196.pdf

    People should understand that most violent crimes in our country are committed by young men — ages 18-25. Hate can result in serious crimes, as we all know and have read about too often in the press.

    Fortunately, no one died here. But we cannot say that no one was hurt. How did this make minority students feel? Were they bullied as a result? What if these posters had succeeded in sowing the fear and racial division that these young men had intended? What if as a result, some minorities were physically attacked or victimized by someone fearful because of the racial division that was sown– a pattern that is far too frequent?

    Imagine if a minority who sincerely disliked the police had done this, instead of a white, young Republican who was actually pro-police, and whose point was to stir people up against the BLM protest movement?? This is troubling that these young men had this kind of hate in their hearts and somehow learned that sowing racial division in Westport would reap political dividends. Deeply, deeply troubling.

    • Ciara Webster

      Kris, well said. He was charged this way because he was in the “know ! Simple as that.
      If it had been a person of color or a Democrat the charges would have been way more severe.
      Typical of this town.
      Roll on November and November 2021
      Time for some serious change around here and NO more favors !
      It’s pathetic !
      Dictatorship

  22. Jerome Hunter

    i thought the “BLM socialists” were at it again? i thought that the black “thugs” and criminals did this disturbance of peace? those flyers were put up to denounce an entire movement about racial inequality and the consistent wrongful murder of innocent black people. this wasn’t a “mistake”. this was used to make black Americans look like the criminals our society has painted us to be. stop focusing on what political party you’re apart of. human rights shouldn’t even be something to argue about. people are being murdered because of their skin color! whether you’re a Republican or Democrat, everyone should have the human decency to care about other people’s lives.

  23. Ana Marshall

    First of all, I would like to remind my fellow westporters that in this country, we are provided a presumption of innocence before being proven guilty. I would refrain from making any declarations of their guilt before a court of law does, especially given that one of the arrested is a child. I will also not speculate on the political affiliation or motives of the two kids who allegedly did this. Short of they themselves making a public statement, we will never know why they allegedly did what they did. The way they allegedly went about expressing their opinion was not right, but as for the political if not rhetorical content of those posters I for one whole heartedly agree. Westport is a racist white people town. We should never forget that we are on the land of paugusset native americans whom our forebears (AKA the guy in the minuteman statue) eradicated and took from its rightful owners. And we all know that the police in this town are just as racist and out of control as many of our neighbors. I’ve seen the way they treat children, beatings, taserings, constantly pulling over anyone darker than a brown paper bag on the sherwood island connector. The posters about president trump I won’t comment on to avoid undue political argument in this forum but Im sure you can imagine how the messages put up about him made me feel 🙂 That said, I cannot think of any word, image, message etc, on a sheet of printer paper taped to a building that would so offend me and my sensibilities that I would ever get the police involved. Maybe I just have thick skin and I mind my own business, qualities i’ve noticed that are sorely lacking in this town. IF these boys are found guilty, they should be made to help the storekeepers who’s businesses they allegedly vandalized in some way, instead of being the victim of a silly manhunt by the overpaid under stimulated town police who want to play FBI and act like this was something bigger than it really was, paper taped to buildings. I know I’ve taped, stapled and glued plenty of paper around town to advertise my yard sale and no cops came looking for me. Id ask if the police had anything better to do, but I know how they spend their time and our money, I hope they’re enjoying the tesla my taxes bought them while they jam up two silly boys who made a youthful error. Thats what you get for speaking truth to power around the Town of Westport i guess, reminds me of another country during another time period, 1933-1945 perhaps?

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