Old Dominion University student Tyler Bergeron, 20, of Herndon, Va. was the “calm, stereotypical pothead playing acoustic guitar,” something seemingly antithetical to recent charges brought against him.
According to a friend, whom wished to remain anonymous, Bergeron had a good heart and always meant well.
“He just loved making music and making new friends,” the friend said in a Facebook message. “He was always kind of weird but always a super nice dude. It’s hard for me to imagine him how the police describe him.”
Police charged Bergeron with a single felony count of conspiring to commit an act of terrorism on April 10. He was granted a $50,000 bond last Wednesday, April 17. A conviction on the felony charge has a punishment of 20 years to life in prison.
Police searched Bergeron’s apartment and found his journal in which he proclaimed himself a “domestic terrorist,” according to the warrant.
An affidavit for the search warrant stated Bergeron asked his roommate, a firearms instructor, to get him a concealed weapons permit and assist him with shooting better. The roommate did not comply.
General District Judge Bruce Wilcox ordered Bergeron to live under the close supervision of his parents in Northern Virginia, take drug tests and his prescribed medicine. Bergeron was also banned from ODU campus and from possessing any firearms or weapons.
Bergeron’s attorney, William Taliaferro, told the court he was diagnosed with a mental illness and was no longer taking his medications, the Virginian-Pilot reported. By his own volition, Bergeron checked himself into the hospital and turned himself into the police.
“We chilled everyday since January. He never once brought up shooting anyone. He was all about peace and love and music,” the friend said. “He would even say a Rastafarian prayer to Jah every time before he would smoke.”
Nearing the end of March, he began to dress and act uncharacteristically and told his roommate he was “gonna start shooting” people “at school on the Internet,” according to a search warrant.
Bergeron and his roommates weren’t friends and didn’t speak to each other much said the friend.
“He was just some kid who stayed in his room and played video games all the time and never really talked to Bergeron,” the friend said of Bergeron’s roommate.
The friend said Bergeron came over the day before his arrest, behaving strangely and saying he hadn’t slept in days after taking DMT at a Slightly Stoopid concert a few days prior. He had cut his hair, shaved his beard, had writing and symbols on his arms and didn’t look well. He was also extremely distraught and frantic about the death of his dog.
“He came over and was acting weirder than I’d ever seen him act,” the friend said.
Bergeron wasn’t acting violent but showed signs of depression and mania.
His friend said he was “laying on my bed bawling then suddenly laughing real hard…I’ve never seen him act like that.”
“He just did way too many drugs and believed too much…orbital celestial outer space [stuff]. Dude’s like on a permanent trip,” the friend said.
The friend said the arrest came as a surprise considering Bergeron’s generally affable demeanor and how much time they spent together. He figured, in that time, disturbing characteristics would become visible.
He said Bergeron was “always smiling and preaching universal love and peace and music. I feel like he was on a bad trip and saying nonsense and the wrong person heard and told the police or something.”
By Derek Page