Aquebogue man indicted after making antisemitic terror threat in NYC

A 22-year-old Aquebogue man who was arrested at Penn Station for making threats against Manhattan’s Jewish community was indicted in state Supreme Court Wednesday.

Christopher Brown and a co-conspirator, Matthew Mahrer, 22, are each facing conspiracy and weapons charges as a result of the Nov. 18 incident.

Mr. Brown, who is being held without bail, is also charged with making a terroristic threat, making a terroristic threat as a hate crime and additional weapons charges, according to the indictment announced by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin L. Bragg Jr. 

The pair were detained by Metropolitan Transportation Authority officers at the transit hub on the evening of Nov. 18 as police investigated threats to area synagogues. Police searched their backpacks and recovered a large hunting knife, a swastika armband and ski mask from Mr. Brown’s backpack. 

Police later recovered an illegal Glock 17 firearm, an extended 30-round magazine and 19 rounds of ammunition from a backpack at Mr. Mahrer’s apartment. Authorities said Mr. Brown allegedly paid Mr. Mahrer $650 to obtain the firearm in Pennsylvania.

Earlier on Nov. 18, Mr. Brown made several threatening Twitter posts including “Gonna ask a Priest if I should become a husband or shoot up a synagogue and die,” and “This time I’m really gonna do it.”

In a memo issued at the time, police noted that Mr. Brown has a history of mental illness and had recently expressed interest in traveling to NYC to purchase a firearm.

In an interview, his mother told News 12 Long Island that he has schizophrenia and had recently aged out of a group home.

“A horrific tragedy was averted thanks to the diligence, hard work and coordination between my office and our local, state and federal law enforcement partners,” Mr. Bragg said in a statement, adding that threats, especially amid a rise in antisemitic attacks, will not be tolerated. “We continue to vigorously prosecute hate crimes every day and are using every tool at our disposal to address hate and bias.”

A report released by the Anti-Defamation League earlier this year found that antisemitic attacks increased by 24% in 2021, when a total of 416 incidents were documented. That number includes 51 assaults — the highest number ever recorded by the group — and notable increases in harassment, vandalism, and incidents involving swastika symbols in New York last year. 

In a statement Wednesday, NYPD Commissioner Keechant L. Sewell said the department continues to be vigilant against such attacks. “Through the focused, collective efforts of the NYPD and our many law enforcement partners we were able to uncover, investigate, and, most importantly, stop a threat to our Jewish community. We will never tolerate hate in our city, and we vow to hold accountable anyone who threatens the safety and security of our diverse population.”