New York Daily News
Vegan-hating ‘ex-fruitarian’ arrested for death threats
Vowed mass shooting, knifings at Woodstock food festival, feds say
A Brooklyn man’s anti-vegan grudge led him to threaten a mass shooting and stabbing at the upstate Woodstock Fruit Festival if its organizers didn’t cancel the event or prevent people he hated from attending, the feds say.
William Swift, 32, is “a self-described ‘incel,’ or involuntarily celibate,” federal prosecutors said in a memo filed Tuesday in Brooklyn Federal Court. “Members of this movement have increasingly been involved in violent activities,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Gilbert Rein wrote in the memo.
Swift is accused of making his threats in emails and audio recordings to one of the weeklong festival’s organizers, telling her in one chilling message, “The ideal thing would be to go up to Woodstock to shoot up...the Jewish meet up. That would be ideal,” according to court filings.
Federal authorities arrested Swift on Tuesday morning, and a Brooklyn Federal Court magistrate later in the day ordered him held without bail.
The festival, which runs from Aug. 21 through Aug. 28 at Camp Walden in Diamond Point, bills itself as a lakeside “vegan health retreat” and “an all-out celebration of health, fruit-based diet and personal growth.”
Swift started his campaign against the woman who runs the festival in February by warning her in an email not to allow two men associated with the event to attend, according to a federal complaint.
The messages escalated after that, court documents state.
“Yeah none of them can go to Woodstock, if I see them at Woodstock online I’ll go to Woodstock with a gun and just shoot them or whoever else is in my way...not you, I’ll never shoot you, yet,” Swift said in one message.
“I hope they all do come so I get to go up and shoot everyone,” he said in another.
He also threatened to stab people “with my legal pocketknife” if the festival went on as planned, and threatened to “do a f—-ing Ted Bundy” to the organizer, who’s identified in court documents as Jane Doe.
“I’m sorry to say this but I can’t stop fantasizing about doing very, very, very bad things to you, I don’t have a plan I just fantasize about doing very, very bad things to you,” Swift said, according to the complaint. He also threatened to kill her if she went to the police, the feds allege.
“If they actually did arrest me, I really would kill her,” he said in a text message, boasting later that he “shut down the drag queen show for kids” at a health festival.
He also directed his ire at others involved with the festival, including a former presenter, who he told in a May 12 message, “I hate you ... and view this as a death cult and if I see you at WFF I will aim for you and your friends or your woman but mainly you.”
The FBI tracked all the messages to an internet address at Swift’s home in East New York, according to the complaint.
The NYPD arrested Swift on a separate charge in July after he “told an acquaintance over Instagram that he “fantasize[d] about shooting up Washington Square Park,” Rein wrote.
He knew the walls were closing in by then, according to a criminal complaint filed in Manhattan Criminal Court.
“I’m afraid the FBI is going to get me. I’ve threatened so many people while drunk,” he texted the acquaintance. “I’m scared I can’t fix the damage I’ve already done.”
In another Instagram message, he continued, “Everyday I feel nothing but hopeless and hate... I have honestly been sending crazy amounts of death threats to people... I’m told the FBI will come arrest me for it any day.”
After that arrest, the NYPD took Swift to a hospital for a psychological evaluation, and Manhattan prosecutors charged him with falsely reporting an incident. The charge was not bail eligible.
Swift, who goes by “thefruitariannyc” on Instagram and lives in East New York, has apparently soured on the vegan lifestyle and the vegan community. Court papers say he declared in July: “I swear to God, I hate vegans and raw vegans. I’m not a fruitarian anymore.”
He also plays guitar at the Union Square subway station, and has posted videos of his performances on YouTube.
At a court hearing hearing Thursday, Swift denied being an incel, and said his mental health problems led him to say “extremely angry, hateful things.”
“I have had sex. I’m not an incel. I just don’t enjoy it,” he told Federal Magistrate Judge Taryn Merkl.
Swift’s lawyer, Nora Hirozawa of the Federal Defenders, argued that he never made good on any of his threats, and said he wouldn’t get the mental health help he needs in Brooklyn’s troubled Metropolitan Detention Center. Merkl rejected Hirozawa’s request that Swift be released on $150,000 bail, pointing out that the event he threatened to shoot up hasn’t happened yet.
Woodstock Fruit Festival organizers did not immediately return a message seeking comment Tuesday.