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New York Police Seize Weapons from Two Men Over Credible Threat to Jewish Community

The arrests come during a time of heightened anxiety concerning anti-Semitism, in New York City and beyond.
NYPD building is seen in Times Square in New York, Oct. 24, 2022. (Photo: Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto via Reuters)
NYPD building is seen in Times Square in New York, Oct. 24, 2022. (Photo: Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto via Reuters)

All Israel News Staff | November 20, 2022

The New York Police Department, working with the FBI, detained two men in the early hours of Saturday at New York Penn Station, dispossessing them of an illegal GLOCK 17 pistol, a 30-round magazine of ammunition, a large knife and a Nazi armband. 

The Metropolitan Transit Authority said two of its officers apprehended the suspects after being notified of the threat Friday evening. One of the suspects was carrying the knife, while the rest of the items were among the suspects’ belongings. 

NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell said police were “deploying assets at sensitive locations” in the city and said that the two suspects represented a “developing threat to the Jewish community.” 

Police charged 21-year-old Christopher Brown with making terrorist threats, aggravated harassment and criminal possession of a weapon; and 22-year-old Matthew Mahrer was charged with the criminal possession of a deadly weapon.

Mahrer is also accused of threatening to “shoot up a synagogue and die.”

His defense attorney, Brandon Freycint, said Mahrer is “of Jewish heritage” and is the part-time caretaker of his grandfather, a Holocaust survivor. 

“There are a lot of questions here,” Freycint noted about his client, who allegedly was diagnosed with autism, bipolar disorder and anxiety. 

In addition, the NYPD alerted officers late Friday that Brown had a history of mental illness, had made threats to synagogues and “should be considered armed and dangerous.” The alert said Brown had stated online that he was thinking of traveling from his home in Long Island to New York City in order to purchase a weapon.

“Today, we’re extremely grateful to NYPD investigators and our law enforcement partners who uncovered and stopped a threat to our Jewish community,” Sewell said on social media. “This morning’s arrests in Penn Station and weapon seizures are proof of their vigilance and collaboration that keeps New Yorkers safe.”

The arrests come during a time of heightened anxiety concerning anti-Semitism in New York City and beyond. The NYPD has recorded an increase in the number of reported anti-Semitic incidents, a trend that reflects figures being released by cities and countries around the world during the last year. 

Meanwhile, the incendiary comments of celebrities such as Kanye West and Kyrie Irving have triggered concerns that anti-Semitism is becoming mainstream and generating a rise in hate posts, including against Jews.

According to CNN’s report about the New York City arrests, Brown began writing on Twitter on Nov. 12 about shooting up a synagogue. Brown has also been diagnosed a schizophrenic. 

“The parents of this defendant alerted police officers to the existence of a firearm within the backpack of the defendant inside the defendant’s apartment,” said Assistant District Attorney Emilio Hernandez to reporters.

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