A potential “tragedy” was averted in New York City on Saturday after police arrested two heavily armed men who allegedly intended to attack a Manhattan synagogue, according to prosecutors.
The officers of the Metropolitan Transport Authority arrested both the men. at Penn Station. Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said the men had a firearm, a high-capacity magazine, ammunition, an 8-inch-long military-style knife, a swastika arm patch, a ski mask and a bulletproof vest. a statement.
“The blatant anti-social targeting of synagogues is reprehensible,” Bragg said, adding that “online postings indicated intent to use these weapons at a Manhattan synagogue.”
Christopher Brown, 21, of Aquebogue, New York, was charged with making terroristic threats, aggravated assault and possession of a weapon, according to police. Matthew Mahrer, 22, of New York, New York, was charged with criminal possession of a weapon.
Bragg said, “The Manhattan DA’s office will now pursue accountability and justice in this case with the full resources of our anti-terrorist program and our recently enhanced and expanded Hate Crimes Unit. Don’t tolerate hate.”
‘People are incredibly stressed now’:With comments from Trump, Kanye West and Kyrie Irving, Jewish communities fear growing hate
complaints Details Twitter posts allegedly made by Brown that discuss plans to “brutally murder people”.
According to the complaint, Brown wrote on Twitter Thursday, “I will ask a priest whether I should be a husband or get shot and die in a synagogue.”
“This time I’m really going to do it,” he reportedly wrote the next day.
It is not clear which synagogue in the Brown and Maher area was allegedly targeted. Attorneys for Brown and Maher did not immediately respond to requests for comment from USA TODAY.
According to the complaint, Brown told an officer that he and Maher had met at a church early Saturday and “wanted to receive a blessing.”
According to the complaint, Brown allegedly told the officer, “I have Nazi paraphernalia in my house. I think it’s really cool. I also operate a white supremacist Twitter group.”
Brown was arraigned Sunday and is being held without bail. Maher was arraigned Saturday and the court set bail on $150,000 cash or $300,000 surety. Both men are expected to appear in court again on Wednesday.
Michael Driscoll, assistant director of the FBI’s New York field office, said Monday that there was no information related to the case indicating a continued threat to the Jewish community.
“Both subjects are both facing charges from the state,” Driscoll said. “No decision has yet been made regarding possible federal charges. This investigation is ongoing.”
‘We all feel the shock and grief’:Colorado Springs community mourns Club Q shooting victims
New York Police Department Commissioner Keechant Sewell said in a statement Saturday that FBI/NYPD Joint Terrorism Task Force, NYPD Counterterrorism and Intelligence Bureau investigators and law enforcement partners “uncovered a developing threat to the Jewish community” on Friday.
Sewell said officers were dispatched to various locations throughout New York City in response to the threat.
one in police alert On Friday, police said Brown had made “recent threats to an undisclosed Jewish synagogue in the New York area.” The alert said Brown “has a history of mental illness” and “recently expressed interest in traveling to NYC to purchase a firearm.”
New York City Council Member Ari Kagan shared a photo of Brown on Twitter on Saturday Told He was “relieved to learn that this individual is now in police custody.”
Brian Levine, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, said the arrests come as some of America’s largest cities are seeing a “dramatic” increase in anti-Semitic hate crimes. Levin said that last year, major US cities saw a 59% increase in anti-Semitic hate crimes.
Levin said preliminary data from the New York City Police Department for 2022 showed a 35% increase in anti-Semitic hate crime incidents. In Los Angeles, police data shows a 13% increase in the number of anti-Semitic hate crime victims. Levine said there have been at least 25 incidents in Chicago so far this year, compared to eight in 2021.
Report:2021 sees highest ever number of incidents targeting Jewish Americans
Earlier this month, the FBI warned of a “credible” threat to synagogues in New Jersey and urged communities to take safety precautions. Days later, federal prosecutors charged an 18-year-old New Jersey man for threatening to attack a synagogue and individual Jews in an online post, the Courier News and Home News Tribune reported.
“This comes at a time of extreme sensitivity in the New York-area Jewish community,” the Anti-Defamation League of New York and New Jersey said in a statement Saturday. “As always, we ask the community to remain vigilant, but there is no need for immediate community action at this time.”
In a news conference on Monday, New York City Mayor Eric Adams warned that hate in America is “on the rise” and has been “normalized by politicians and celebrities, amplified by social media and cable news and The easy availability of guns in this has weaponized the country.”
“A Nazi arm band in New York City in 2022 – think about that for a moment,” Adams said.
Adams also called for greater accountability from social media platforms for spreading hate online.
Eric Goldstein, CEO of the United Jewish Association-Federation of New York, appeared with Adams at the press conference to thank law enforcement.
Goldstein said, “What could have been the next Pittsburgh or Poway synagogue massacre.”
‘Master of the Foolish Business’:What we know about the victims in Colorado Springs