NEW BRITAIN, Conn. — Dennis J. Hernandez, the brother of the late New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez, had threatened to kill his estranged wife and her divorce lawyer while struggling with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, according to new details disclosed in a Connecticut courtroom Tuesday.
Hernandez, who went by “DJ” while playing football for the University of Connecticut in the mid-2000s, giggled at times during a hearing in New Britain Superior Court as a judge extended a risk protection order barring him from having any contact with his wife and from having any guns, ruling Hernandez remains a danger.
Hernandez will remain in custody while he faces a series of state and federal charges related to alleged threats, including accusations that he was planning mass shootings at the University of Connecticut and Brown University. The 37-year-old previously worked as a quarterback coach for Brown for one season during the 2011-12 academic year.
He is due back in court for his state case on Aug. 15; he will appear in federal court on Aug. 11 on newly filed charges that include threatening and stalking across state lines.
In newly-filed court documents attached to his federal charges that were obtained by The Boston Globe, Hernandez also allegedly made threats against an unidentified sports commentator who works for ESPN. In a Facebook post earlier this year, Hernandez referenced both ESPN and this employee, and wrote, “Might just drag you and your b---- a-- family members down south. Stay virtual you still have no clue how many years I’ve had yours calculated out. Now it’s time to see the dangle of your feet.”
Hernandez’s post, which was reviewed by the FBI, also read, “Fed, come get me,” and he provided an address that is the location of a homeless shelter in Hartford, Conn.
The sports commentator was unaware of Hernandez’s posts until they were notified by law enforcement, according to documents filed in federal court by FBI special agent Megan Rue.
Sandra Crowell, a public defender, is representing Hernandez in his state case. Josh Ewing, a public defender representing Hernandez in his federal case, did not immediately respond to the Globe’s request for comment on Tuesday night.
Hernandez was originally arrested in March on misdemeanor charges after Bristol police said he threw a bag containing a brick and a note over a fence and onto ESPN’s property before leaving in an Uber. He did not appear in court as scheduled on July 7, but instead his girlfriend told police that Hernandez drove that day to UConn’s main campus in Storrs and to Brown’s campus in Providence, R.I., to “map the schools out” for a shooting. Bristol Police Officer Zachary Levine testified Tuesday that UConn police scanned the license plate that day of the vehicle his girlfriend had loaned him. In a text to his girlfriend, he wrote, “The next time you see me I will be dead or in jail.”
According to a July arrest report in Bristol, Hernandez wrote several threatening messages, including to a woman close to him that read, “Will I kill? Absolutely.” He also wrote about being angry at UConn coaches and university officials, and warned he was “taking down everything.”
He said he has been dying for years, “and now it’s others peoples turn.”
“Not all shootings are bad I’m realizing,” he wrote.
Bristol police officers arrested Hernandez at his sister’s home in Bristol on July 18 after his mother told them of the threats and described his deteriorating mental health problems, which she said included bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, Levine said in court. Hernandez was shocked with a stun gun and taken into custody after he came out of the house with his arms raised yelling “shoot me.”
During an evaluation, Hernandez allegedly made multiple threats to kill “anyone who profited off of his brother Aaron,” but did not specifically name any people.
Hernandez’s brother, Aaron Hernandez, killed himself in 2017 in a prison cell while serving a murder sentence. Aaron Hernandez was convicted of killing Odin Lloyd, a semi-professional football player, and was found not guilty in a double homicide in Boston. The court proceedings received intense media coverage.
In 2018, Dennis Hernandez published a memoir titled, “The Truth About Aaron: My Journey to Understand My Brother.” Hernandez, who is three years older than the late star football player, chronicled how his life was flipped upside-down by his brother’s demise and wrote, “I was guilty by association — guilty of being his brother.”
According to new court documents filed by the FBI, Hernandez wrote in a series of messages that he was “rounding up amo,” and that he was “off” his “medication schedule.” Hernandez indicated he was using marijuana to help him calm down “with all the bulls--- and bullying they did. So now I’m going to play my version of bullying. It’s called life for life.” It’s not clear in the court documents who Hernandez is referring to.
“I need to let loose and give them what they deserved and that’s me shooting a machine gun at all of them and even if I get them, keep going until my arm can’t keep it up anymore,” he wrote in messages. “I want them all. Every coach in the program, everyone.”
Brown spokesman Brian Clark told the Globe Tuesday night that the university believed Hernandez “did not come to Brown directly” and could not say with certainty whether he was in the Providence area at all. Clark did not respond to questions about whether Hernandez left his post at Brown on his own accord nearly a decade ago, but said the university did not directly receive any alleged threats from the former coach.
The same day Hernandez’s girlfriend told police he was driving around Uconn and Brown’s campuses, Hernandez allegedly went to a “local Connecticut high school and spoke with a school employee,” who was described in court documents as a “former close friend.” Hernandez walked throughout the building for “several minutes” and was described to police as “disconnected,” and “either under the influence of narcotics or having mental health issues.” He claimed that he was “sick of being homeless,” and that it was “about time” the high school and city “compensate him for all he’s done.”
The name of the high school and city was redacted from public documents filed in court. Hernandez coached high school football in Southington, Conn., in 2010, and in Ledyard, Conn., in 2017. In 2018, he resigned from coaching to pursue a career in writing. The school employee, who was not identified, told police they’ve known Hernandez for “many years” and felt scared by his comments.
In extending the protective order, Judge Tammy Geathers ruled Tuesday there is clear and convincing evidence that Hernandez poses a danger to himself and others.
Hernandez, however, was not deemed a danger to himself or others during a psychiatric exam a day after his arrest at his sister’s home, according to testimony in court Tuesday.
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.