An Aquebogue man was one of two people arrested Friday night at Penn Station in connection to threats to the Jewish community, according to the New York Police Department and MTA police.
Christopher Brown, 22, of Aquebogue, was charged with making a terroristic threat, aggravated harassment and criminal possession of a weapon. Mr. Brown allegedly had a “swastika” armband when officers arrested him, according to multiple media reports.
Matthew Mahrer, 22, of Manhattan was also charged with criminal possession of a weapon, police said.
MTA police Chief John Mueller said in a statement that two MTA police officers assigned to patrol Penn Station identified the two men based off information provided by the FBI/NYPD Joint Terrorism Task Force. The officers stopped the men and positively identified them, searched them and recovered a large hunting knife.
An investigation later led to the recovery of an illegal Glock 17 firearm, a 30-round magazine and “several other items,” Chief Mueller said.
The two suspects were then turned over to the NYPD and FBI.
“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,” Chief Mueller said.
The FBI/NYPD Joint Terrorism Task Force had gathered information about a “developing threat to the Jewish community,” according to a statement. The New York Times reported, citing law enforcement sources, that the threats included “shooting up a synagogue,” and were made on social media.
The suspects were arrested at 11:30 p.m. Friday.
“Today, we’re extremely grateful to NYPD investigators and our law enforcement partners who uncovered and stopped a threat to our Jewish community,” NYPD commissioner Keechant Sewell posted on his official Twitter account.
Leaders of the Anti-Defamation League of New York/New Jersey issued a statement Saturday evening thanking the law enforcement.
“This comes at a time of heightened sensitivity in the New York-area Jewish community after an 18-year-old man was charged with sending threats to the Jewish community in New Jersey just two weeks earlier,” the statement said. “As always, we ask the community to remain vigilant, but no further immediate community actions are needed at this time.”