NYPD adds more patrols outside Jewish sites, synagogues after hate crime threat
Two suspects were arrested over the weekend in connection with the alleged threat to the local Jewish community
By Annalise Knudson
Staten Island Advance
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — New York City has increased its police presence in Jewish communities on Staten Island, following a hate crime threat over the weekend that resulted in the arrests of two people.
Two individuals were arrested at Penn Station on Saturday in connection with the alleged threat to the local Jewish community, as well as the seizures of a large hunting knife, an illegal Glock 17 firearm, 30-round magazine, and other items. As the investigation continues, the New York Police Department has increased its presence outside of Jewish sites and synagogues.
"As a joint investigation now continues to establish a strong prosecution, Police Department commanders are strategically deploying assets at sensitive locations throughout New York City," said Police Commissioner Keechant L. Sewell, in a statement about the incident.
Mendy Mirocznik, president of the Council of Jewish Organizations of Staten Island (COJO-SI), told the Advance/SILive.com on Sunday that he has been in communication with the local Staten Island precincts and District Attorney Michael McMahon's office regarding additional police presence outside of Jewish synagogues, organizations, and other sites, following the incident.
"All of them have given their assurances that the police are taking this matter serious," said Mirocznik. "I've seen extra patrols, I've seen the cars out in front of house of worships and synagogues. I was out there last night doing a simple tour to see what situation is. I was satisfied with the increased presence of police."
It's not the first time the NYPD ramped up presence on the borough this month. Mirocznik said there was an increased presence a few weeks ago after areas of New Jersey faced similar threats.
"They have gone to taking the same precautionary steps. Locally the NYPD takes matters very seriously to the credit that they've not failed to pull out whatever necessary measures to make all residents of the city, all residents of Staten Island and members of the Jewish faith feel protected in these times of crisis."
The Joan & Alan Bernikow Jewish Community Center of Staten Island (JCC) stated it continues to take precautions to ensure the center's safety.
"In response to the rise in anti-Semitism, including yesterday's incident, we are continuing to take precautions to ensure the safety of our members, participants, and staff," said a spokesperson for the JCC. "We are following our security protocols, which include working with NYPD, UJA, and JCRC's Community Security Initiative, which connects us to many law enforcement agencies. We are in constant contact with these partners, who have been monitoring the situation and are keeping us updated on what has been happening locally and abroad."
Two MTA police officers assigned to patrol at Penn Station on Friday night identified two men wanted in connection with threats to the Jewish community.
"After stopping and positively identifying the persons of interest, the MTA PD officers conducted a search and recovered a large hunting knife," said MTA PD Chief John Mueller. "An investigation into one of the individuals would later lead to the recovery of an illegal Glock 17 firearm, a 30-round magazine, and several other items. The tremendous police work here reflects the MTA PD's core purpose — protecting millions of daily commuters, in collaboration with our local, state and federal law enforcement partners."
Upon apprehension, the individuals were turned over to the NYPD and FBI, according to Mueller.
The two individuals who were arrested and charged on Saturday, were Christopher Brown, 21, of Aquebogue, N.Y., who was charged with making a terroristic threat, aggravated harassment, and criminal possession of a weapon, and Matthew Mahrer, 22, of Manhattan, who was charged with criminal possession of a weapon.
On Sunday, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced that the New York State Police is increasing surveillance and protection for communities at risk of hate crimes, following the threat on Jewish communities in New York City and a mass shooting at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado.
"I have directed the New York State Police to ramp up monitoring and increase support for communities that are potential targets of hate crimes," said Hochul. "Here in New York, we will not tolerate violence or bigotry toward any community. We stand united against hate — today and every day."
The state police is in contact with the NYPD and continues to monitor social media for hateful threats that may impact New Yorkers, while the state police's Counter Terrorism Intelligence Unit is conducting outreach to LGBTQ communities across New York, as well as to synagogues and other Jewish community spaces in the state.
" The State Police will work in close coordination with our state, local and federal partners to keep all our communities safe from violence," said New York State Police Acting Superintendent Steven A. Nigrelli. "We appreciate the resources and support from Governor Hochul to help us accomplish this mission."
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