Law enforcement agencies will boost surveillance online and in-person in an effort to protect communities from hate crimes, New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced on Sunday.
The governor’s order directs New York State Police to “ramp up monitoring” on social media, and through physical outreach, to identify hateful sentiments and possible threats to “communities that are potential targets of hate crimes.” State police will coordinate with federal authorities and local bureaus, including the New York City Police Department, acting superintendent Steven Nigrelli said in a statement.
Hochul, who earlier this year directed state police to create an intelligence unit that focuses on tracking domestic extremism, said the new surveillance order comes in response to the deadly nightclub shooting in Colorado Springs on Saturday, as well as the series of alleged threats to New York City synagogues that led to two arrests in Pennsylvania Station late last week.
“Amid recent threats to Jewish & LGBTQ communities, I have directed @nyspolice to ramp up monitoring & increase support for communities that are potential targets of hate crimes,” the governor wrote in a tweet. “Here in New York, violence or bigotry will never be tolerated. We stand united against hate.”
On Saturday night, ahead of International Transgender Day of Remembrance on Sunday, five people were killed and at least 25 others were injured in a mass shooting at Club Q, a gay nightclub in Colorado Springs. Police took the suspected gunman into custody and have identified him as 22-year-old Anderson Lee Aldrich, who police said is currently being treated for injuries. Authorities said Aldrich opened fire after entering the establishment and was eventually subdued by at least two patrons who confronted him. The gunman’s motive, and whether the shooting is considered a hate crime, is still unclear.
Earlier Saturday, in New York City, two men were taken into custody while entering Penn Station in connection with alleged threats that authorities said targeted local synagogues. The suspects, identified as 21-year-old Christopher Brown and 22-year-old Matthew Mahrer, were armed with a hunting knife, an illegal Glock 17 firearm and a 30-round magazine at the time of the arrest, according to NYPD.
Police said that FBI investigators had partnered with NYPD officers to probe a “developing threat to the Jewish community” on Friday. Monitoring the suspects’ behaviors on social media helped lead investigators to them the following day, Hochul explained at a Sunday news conference.
“We are in contact with members of Jewish organizations, synagogues and others to let them know, once again, we understand the concern, the fear, hate crime is real, and that the state of New York is taking every step possible to be in the business of preventing crimes and preventing instances and not just waiting to solve them in the end,” Hochul said.