Palm Springs School District Officer Arrested in Domestic Extremism Probe

Palm Springs School District Officer Arrested in Domestic Extremism Probe

News Staff & City News Service

A Palm Springs Unified School District patrol officer has been arrested as part of an investigation into domestic extremism by an FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force, which alleges the officer was an adherent of the QAnon conspiracy theory and a right-wing militia group involved in storming the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

According to documents filed in Riverside County Superior Court, Alfredo Luna Jr., 41, a former Cathedral City police officer, was arrested on Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, after a prior search of his home turned up an unregistered assault rifle.

Luna was booked into the Larry D. Smith Correctional Facility in Banning and released the following day after posting $250,000 bail.

According to the arrest warrant, when authorities searched Luna’s home, they found an unregistered Smith and Wesson assault rifle under his bed.

Investigators stated that when they questioned Luna about the gun, he said he had bought it from a former coworker at the Cathedral City Police Department during his time there, but could not remember the seller’s name.

Authorities also seized six other guns registered to Luna in accordance with a temporary gun and ammunition restraining order authorities had obtained against Luna.

John Candias, a detective with the Rialto Police Department and member of the FBI-JTTF-Riverside, wrote in a declaration in support of the arrest warrant that Luna admitted to being an “adherent to the Qanon conspirator movement and the three-percenter (3%) militia group” while being interviewed during the search.

QAnon is a group of right-wing conspiracy theorists who claim that former President Donald Trump is secretly saving the world from a cabal of child-eating Satanists, while the Three Percenters is a far-right, anti- government militia group.

Both groups have been linked to the riots at the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 6, though it was not alleged that Luna was involved in that action.

Candias goes on to write that Luna is a “former US Marine and fully capable of inflicting lethal violence.”

In addition, the arrest warrant states that Luna had been “posting messages and images of his discontent for government officials and advocates others to carry out violence” on social media and that his “behavior is consistent with pre-incident indicators of extreme violence.”

Exactly what was contained in the posts was not specified.

The Riverside County District Attorney’s Office charged Luna with one felony count of possessing an unregistered assault weapon on Jan. 19.

Palm Springs Unified School District spokeswoman Joan Boiko told the Desert Sun that Luna was placed on paid administrative leave soon after the arrest. She said Luna had passed a background check before being hired as a patrol officer with PSUSD in the summer of 2020.

Luna previously worked as an officer with the Cathedral City Police Department, but according to the Desert Sun, was terminated from that job on Jan. 7, 2019 after an internal investigation found that he falsified his time card.

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