MIDTOWN, Manhattan (WABC) — Two men have been formally charged in what authorities described as a “developing threat to the Jewish community.”
MTA police arrested Christopher Brown and Matthew Mahrer at Penn Station on Saturday.
Brown, 21, from Aquebogue, Suffolk County told police he operates a white supremacist Twitter group that he said “is really cool,” according to a criminal complaint made public Sunday following his arraignment.
He tweeted anti-Semitic threats under the username “VrilKhan” and told detectives “I have a sick personality,” the complaint said.
Police said Brown met another Mahrer, 22, at St. Patrick’s Cathedral and had purchased a gun for $650 in Pennsylvania.
When he was arrested at Penn Station by two MTA police officers Brown was in possession of an 8-inch military style knife with a 4-inch blade, a Swastika arm patch and ski mask, according to police.
“A potential tragedy was averted when they were intercepted by police officers at Penn Station, given that online postings indicated an intent to use these weapons at a Manhattan synagogue,” said Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg. “Hateful anti-Semitic targeting of synagogues is deplorable.”
Brown pleaded not guilty to felony weapons charges and a charge of making a terroristic threat. He was ordered held without bail.
Mahrer pleaded not guilty to weapons charges. His bail was set at $150,000.
Many in the Jewish community are already on edge after a disturbing threat was made online two weeks ago by a New Jersey teen.
In a tweet on Sunday, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said she had directed State Police to ramp up support for communities that could be targets of hate crimes.
Federal prosecutors are deciding whether more charges will be added to Brown’s case. Both Brown and Mahrer are scheduled to appear in court on Nov. 23.
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