A number of “06880” readers were appalled at the behavior of Max Bernegger, the 2020 Staples High School graduate who taunted pro-choice protestors from the steps of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral Sunday, while wearing a jacket bearing Fire Department of New York logos. The FDNY quickly noted that he is not a New York firefighter.
Meanwhile, a number of “06880” readers urged compassion for Bernegger, who was arrested in 2020 for posting flyers in Westport falsely implying that outside far-left agitators were coming to terrorize the town.
Readers reached out privately to me as well. Some said that Max’s parents — longtime Westporters — are wonderful people, pained by their son’s actions. Some urged compassion for a young man who made a mistake. Some said he was a young man trying to find his way. Some said he was troubled, and needs help.
I told someone with connections to the family that I would be glad to give Max a chance to tell his side on “06880.” I would also print a statement from the family. I have not heard back.
Today, as the video of Max continues to draw millions of views on social media, more videos have surfaced.
One shows him on the Stew Peters Show last night. He says his name is Chad McDowell, and claims that pr0-choice advocates were planning to attach St. Patrick’s Church “for Satan.”
The leader of the group "protecting" a Catholic church from pro-choice protesters last weekend appeared on "The Stew Peters Show" last night. His name is Chad McDowell and he said the protesters were following "literal direct orders from the devil himself." https://t.co/KqGG37uGSF pic.twitter.com/FMMRegZvQ2
— Right Wing Watch (@RightWingWatch) May 11, 2022
He also may have changed his name on Facebook to Jacob A. Tate — a Black soldier killed in Afghanistan. Using that name, he posted on Tate’s mother’s page that her son deserved what he got. Those posts are now unavailable.
Meanwhile, Max is no stranger to protests. He was at this earlier event, as posted on Twitter:
— Danesh (@thatdaneshguy) May 8, 2022
Max shows no signs of repentance. In fact, he’s doubling down:
The posts above were recent. Those below are from March:
Someone who knows Max and his parents asked me to stop “piling on.”
I’m not piling on. The tagline of “06880” is “Where Westport meets the world.”
Max Bernegger — aka a New York firefighter, Chad McDowell, Jacob A. Tate, and perhaps other names — has made this Westport story into a national one.