A ski mask, a large hunting knife, a semi-automatic, a “ghost gun” with increased magazine capacity and laser sight, and a Nazi armband. These were among the items linked by the NYPD to two suspects who had made repeated online threats against the Jewish community in New York City.
New York City Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell said that the two suspects — Christopher Brown, 22, of Riverhead, and Matthew Mahrer, 21, from Manhattan — were arrested Saturday before they could carry out their plan.
Brown was wearing the armband when he and Mahrer were spotted by MTA officers at Penn Station after an alert had been issued from the FBI/NYPD Joint Terrorism Task Force. Their arsenal had been previously recovered from an apartment.
Both men are being charged with criminal possession of a weapon, with Brown also facing charges of aggravated harassment and issuing a terrorist threat.
Prosecutors have indicated that further charges may be added later.
One post from Brown asked if he should “shoot up a synagogue.” In a now-removed tweet, City Council member Ari Kagan (D-Brooklyn) identified Brown and warned that he had exhibited signs of mental illness.
The incident comes on the heels of the FBI recently announcing perceived threats against synagogues throughout New Jersey, after which New York Mayor Eric Adams stationed officers around the city’s temples as a precaution.
Today, we’re extremely grateful to NYPD investigators and our law enforcement partners who uncovered and stopped a threat to our Jewish community. This morning’s arrests in Penn Station and weapon seizures are proof of their vigilance & collaboration that keeps New Yorkers safe. pic.twitter.com/p7ptKPgBSj
— Commissioner Sewell (@NYPDPC) November 19, 2022
Overall, both New York and the US as a whole have seen a rise in antisemitic crimes.
According to the ADL, there were some 416 antisemitic incidents in 2021, including 51 assaults, compared to 12 assaults in 2020 (though that number may have been reduced due to Covid).
The ADL recorded a total of more than 2700 incidents across the nation in 2021. The term is wide-ranging, but there’s little doubt that antisemitism is on the rise.
As we see more hatred against the Jewish people expressed both online and in person, authorities fear that another shooting like that which occurred at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh in 2018, which left eleven people dead.
“Never again” means never again. The New York City Police Department deserves kudos for a job well done.