Two suspects who allegedly planned to attack New York City synagogues have been arraigned, CBS New York’s Lisa Rozner reports.
Police say 21-year-old Christopher Brown, of Long Island, was found with an 8-inch knife and high-capacity magazine when he was arrested Friday night in Penn Station.
Also arrested with him was 22-year-old Matthew Mahrer, of Manhattan, whose family reportedly is Jewish, including his grandfather, who is a Holocaust survivor.
Criminal complaints against both men cite Twitter messages that warned early last week, “Big moves being made on Friday,” and then Thursday: “Gonna ask a priest if I should become a husband or shoot up a synagogue and die.”
Brown’s family told CBS New York exclusively that he’s schizophrenic.
“He’s not a bad person. He’s just very sick, you know, and he needs help,” Brown’s sister said.
Police say Brown told them, “Matt is one of my followers. I have Nazi paraphernalia in my house. I think it is really cool. I also operate a white supremacist Twitter group.”
Mahrer, who faces charges of criminal possession of a weapon, reportedly has bipolar disorder.
Attorneys for both suspects say they have no criminal records.
New York City synagogues such as Temple Emanu-El in Manhattan e-mailed congregants reminding them “security has been and will remain vigilant keeping us physically safe. … Our emotional safety will depend on our commitment to addressing every instance of anti-Jewish sentiment we encounter.”
Rabbi Joshua Stanton, of the East End Temple, agrees.
“Unfortunately, each and every time there’s an attack or a threat, we revisit the issue of security,” Stanton told Rozner. “This feels like a moment in the history of our country when we can’t have bystanders. This is a moment to be an upstander.”
As for the thwarted attack, the Manhattan District Attorney specify what had been targeted.
Prosecutors asked that both suspects are being held without bail and are due in court Wednesday.