Daniel Fernando Catalan, the 41-year-old owner of the Dessert Bar in Flagler Beach and a resident of Palmwood Drive in Palm Coast, has been in jail on no bond since Tuesday morning on a charge of making a “written threat to conduct an act of terrorism” following allegations that he threatened to kill an employee he had just fired. Catalan laced his alleged threats in racist invectives, potentially exposing him to hate-crime charges if and when the State Attorney ratifies the charges.
Catalan is in jail without bond because this week’s incident caused his pre-trial release on bond on two previous charges to be revoked. He’d been arrested on charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and resisting an officer last August, and again arrested last November on a domestic battery charge.
L.A. is a 39-year-old resident of Flagler Beach who worked at the Dessert Bar. Catalan fired him, and on Monday trespassed him from the business. L.A. alleged that Catalan had struck him in the face at the restaurant. Flagler Beach police investigated and filed a battery charge but had insufficient evidence to make an arrest at the time.
The next day, Catalan saw L.A. jogging. According to Catalan’s arrest report, Catalan pulled over, began screaming at Alexander, hurling the N-word at him (L.A. is Black, Catalan is Hispanic), telling him to “get the fuck out of [his] town,” threatening to “put him in a barrel and dump him,” pulling out a foot-long knife with a black handle, waving it at L.A. “in a threatening manner,” before Catalan then pulled up his shirt “to intentionally expose a black firearm in a black holster on his right side.” A police search of the car and of Catalan’s person after the alleged encounter revealed no gun, and only a “small pocket knife with a blade several inches in length,” according to police. The report does not specify how much time had elapsed between L.A. reporting the incident and Catalan getting pulled over.
Since 7:30 that morning, Catalan (known as “Danny”) had allegedly been sending L.A. threatening and racist texts, which police later reviewed: “Stay out of Flagler or you will see my bite,” one read, and “Dude your black ass just gets handed to so[me] white boy in the sticks out here homie I’ll let them have there fun.” [Sic.] The invectives continued: “I k[now] your black and scary right well this mexican will fucking take u fishing and see how well you fish.” Throughout, L.A. would respond but attempt to de-escalate the invectives, only to get more threats in return: “Listen you come near me I fucking will dispenser you in the right canals.”
L.A. texted Catalan a four-paneled cartoon “clearly meant to imply that [Catalan’s] ‘bark’ is ‘bigger than his bite,'” the officer investigating the case reported, to which Catalan responded: “Guess the bull dog never gotten bit by a Chihuahua or chupacabra. Your lucky I’m on bond homie don’t worry your gonna learn real quick who’s hood this is.” “You obviously did not learn […] this is my hood and I told you already I will dispensive you however I want come by way and I promise you it’s the last thing you f*** do.”
“It’s a new day brother that racist shot doesn’t affect me,” L.A. responded. “Ok fuck face,” Catalan responded, “no talking no arguing all i do now is get rid of you.” The investigative officer reports: “At no time does [L.A.] threaten [Catalan] in return; instead, [L.A.] consistently attempts to deescalate the situation, frequently using humor to do so.”
The alleged encounter was taking place along State Road 100 in the vicinity of Wadsworth Park. Fearful for his safety, L.A. ran into the woods and hid until Catalan drove away. L.A. then went to the 7-Eleven on S.R.100 and called police.
At some point after taking the information from L.A., Flagler Beach officers, in cooperation with Flagler County Sheriff’s deputies, initiated a traffic stop involving Catalan, near the Flagler Beach police station, and detained him. He described L.A. as a “disgruntled employee” who knew Catalan was out on bond.
He then blamed L.A. for trying to “get him in trouble.”
Bond was set at $7,500 on Tuesday’s charges. But because of the new charges, bond was revoked on the previous charges. The first of those two incidents took place on Aug. 29. A teenage boy was visiting Catalan’s teenage daughter and her younger brother. They all fell asleep watching a movie in her bedroom. Catalan woke them up and asked the visiting boy what he was doing there, and walked away after getting an explanation–only to return “with a black pistol that had a red dot scope on it.” According to the boy, Catalan pointed the laser dot–and the gun–on the boy, telling him with obscene terms to grab his stuff and get out of his house.
When police knocked at Catalan’s door after the incident had been reported to them, Catalan came to the door but said he would not come out unless police had a warrant. He then closed the door on the officer. “After about a minute of knocking on the door again,” the officer reported, Catalan “answered the door in a hostile manner, he was verbally aggressive, and came outside. [Catalan] started coming towards me yelling, at which point he was grabbed by his wrist and placed into handcuffs for officer safety to obtain his side of the story.” Catalan would not speak with the officers without attorney representation, as is his right, but as he was being escorted to a patrol car he struggled as if “he was attempting to flee on foot,” the officer reported.
“He later stated that he hated Flagler Beach Police, and that we will ‘get ours,'” according to a police report. That had prompted a Flagler Beach police officer to issue an “Officer Safety Bulletin” to fellow-police officers on Aug. 29.
Catalan’s wife meanwhile told police that the juvenile who’d been at the house was her daughter’s boyfriend and that he was there with a few other friends with her permission. They’d ordered pizza, they were in her daughter’s bedroom with her daughter’s younger brother, the door open. She said Catalan returned home, saw the scene and “became verbally aggressive” but never pulled a gun on the boy. He was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
After his booking Catalan posted bail on $11,500 bond but was ordered as part of his pre-trial release to have no contact with the alleged victim and surrender all firearms and ammunition to the Sheriff’s Office. His bond was first revoked on Nov. 16, following a second arrest.
Catalan himself had called police. He “wanted to ask law enforcement whether he could ‘spank’ his sixteen-year-old daughter.” His wife then called police and said she was going through a divorce and was scared for her safety. Dispatchers could hear Catalan yelling at the caller during the 911 call before the line disconnected. Officers were immediately dispatched. Catalan told them his daughter had been “mouthing off” and again wanted to know whether he could spank her. An officer told her corporal punishment is legal in Florida (even in schools), however, “he could not be excessively harsh or injure his daughter.”
He then blamed his wife for “trying to get him arrested.”
His wife then told officers that Catalan “is frequently physically aggressive with her,” with their daughter often intervening to protect her mother, only to incur further “rage” from Catalan, to the point that the night of Nov. 13 the daughter and mother locked themselves up in a bedroom for protection for the night. She described further alleged violence the following morning. Catalan told police that his wife had herself struck him, though he’d not spoke of it earlier because he did not want to get her in trouble. He denied having been physically violent toward her except in “defense.” The reporting officer noted that “it was difficult to maintain a conversation with [Catalan] due to his tendency to scream incoherently in rage.”
He was arrested on a domestic violence charge, causing his earlier bond to be revoked, though he would again post bail on $2,000 bond related to the domestic violence arrest. His pre-trial release on that bond included an order of no contact with his wife. In December, Catalan filed a certificate indicating that he’d attended a domestic violence awareness class offered by the Family Life Center in Flagler. But both previous cases continue to make their way through the court system, as now does the third case.
Palm Coast attorney Josh Davis is representing him. In 2019 Davis represented a juvenile girl facing the same felony charge of making written threats that Catalan faces in what was the most high-profile case of its kind, resulting from threats to kill her teacher the girl had made in a chat with another student at Flagler Palm Coast High School. The threats were also filled with racist invectives (the girl is white, the teacher is Black). The girl claimed the threats were not serious and were mere exchanges about acts that would never be carried out. After a bench trial, Circuit Judge Chris France found the girl guilty and compared her act to terrorism. She was sentenced to probation and required to write an essay on hate speech.
Contacted about the Catalan case, Davis today issued the following statement: “I would ask that he is given the same chance as every American citizen is entitled. As Americans we are presumed innocent until proven guilty. Mr. Catalan comes from a strong Puerto Rican family. His parents are phenomenal people. Colin Powell had a great line in his book. I’m paraphrasing but–every human can be judged by one page of their book of life and look awful. To understand someone, you need to read the entire book. Danny is obviously going through a tough time, but a few months do not define a lifetime. Our society is into ‘quick fixes.’ Everything is instantaneous now. Wait for all of the facts to come out before you rush to judgment.”