The attack never happened, but police say they apprehended the man who made the threats — a self-described white nationalist with a significant arsenal.
On Saturday, police arrested the alleged owner of the Instagram account, 20-year-old James Patrick Reardon, on charges of telecommunications harassment and aggravated menacing. The day before, authorities searched the New Middletown home of Reardon’s parents, according to WFMJ, and seized a cache of weaponry, including knives, two assault rifles and a large amount of ammunition, as well as a gas mask and bulletproof armor.
“This is a person that has declared himself as a white nationalist. With the hate crimes and everything else going on, we want to make sure we did our part to make sure this person was taken off the streets very quickly,” police chief Vince D’Egidio told WYTV.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation said in a statement Reardon was being held on “local charges,” and more details could not be released because it’s “an ongoing investigation.” Police in New Middletown did not respond to a request for comment.
The arrest comes less than a month after a shooting at an El Paso shopping center in which 22 people were killed and dozens were injured. Before the shooting, police believe, the alleged gunman posted a declaration touting racist ideals. Authorities are considering hate crime charges for that alleged shooter.
It has been less than a year since a gunman killed 11 people at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh after posting anti-Semitic statements online. In April, a shooter opened fire at the Chabad of Poway near San Diego, killing one and wounding three others. He was charged with 109 federal hate crimes and civil rights violations — making it possible for him to face the death penalty, authorities said.
WFMJ reports Reardon took part in the 2017 Charlottesville “Unite the Right” rally and was interviewed for a documentary about his views. In the video, the interviewee says he does not consider himself a neo-Nazi, but a member of the alt-right, saying that he wants “a homeland for white people.”
Bonnie Deutsch Burdman, the director of community relations at the Youngstown Area Jewish Federation said Northeast Ohio has a “very close-knit, very vibrant Jewish community with a very vibrant and active Jewish community center.” The JCC and Federation also have a Jewish nursing home, assisted living facility and family services division in addition to a large campus in Youngstown, Burdman said.
Andy Lipkin, the executive vice president of the Youngstown Area Jewish Federation, said his organization was made aware of posts from an account, with the username “ira_seamus,” Reardon’s alleged online pseudonym. They quickly got in touch with local law enforcement as well as leaders from the local synagogues.
“We take very seriously the need to be vigilant to ensure the safety of all members of the local Jewish community, as well as all members and guests of our Jewish Community Center and our other agencies,” Lipkin said in a statement. “Security has become a vital part of the mission of the Youngstown Area Jewish Federation, a mission from which we will never waver.”
Reardon is being held at the Mahoning County Jail. His bail was set a $250,000.
Matt Zapotosky contributed to this report.