An Inside Look: Teamwork Led to Apprehension of Suspects who Threatened Terror against a Shul on Shabbos
By Yehudit Garmaise
“Teamwork” among law enforcement agencies across the city, state, and federal levels was how New York City was able to avert, within hours after a threatening Twitter post was spotted by NYPD intelligence, a possible terrorist attack on city shuls on Shabbos morning, said Phil Banks, the deputy mayor for public safety.
“This was not an idle threat,” Mayor Eric Adams said this morning at City Hall. “This was a real threat.
“After arresting the suspects, law enforcement officers recovered a Glock semi-automatic firearm, a gun that had no serial number, but had an extended 30-round magazine and laser sites, an 8-inch large hunting knife, a black ski mask, and a Nazi armband.”
The MTA police officers Ryan Fackner and Connor Colasurdo were the heroes who arrested the two suspects Matthew Mahrer, 22, and Christopher Brown, 21, however, the alert to NYC leaders may have originated with the Community Security Initiatives (CSI), which Eric Goldstein, the CEO of the UJA-Federation of New York, said “shared a lead with NYPD and FBI New York, who immediately sprung into action.”
“Thanks to the collective expertise, commitment, and cooperation, of [the MTA, the NYPD, the FBI, the Joint Terrorist Task Force, and local safety agencies,] what might have [G-d forbid] been the next Pittsburgh “Tree of Life” or Poway [Cal.] synagogue massacre was averted,” Goldstein said.
On Friday night, just hours after CSI and NYPD intelligence spotted a post on Twitter that threatened a plan for a violent attack on an NYC shul, the police department called NYPD chief of department Kenneth Corey with the sensitive information of a credible violent attack on Jews.
In turn, Corey called the mayor, who was out at an event, and Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell then immediately deployed an unspecified number of extra police officers to the city’s MTA transit system.
Along with full descriptions of the suspects, Sewell issued a “BOLO,” which means to “Be On the Look Out” for the suspects, who were likely to use the MTA system and the Long Island Railroad.
The “men of the hour,” as MTA CEO Janno Lieber called them, were the MTA police officers who apprehended the suspects as soon as they saw them at Penn station.
While the police officers were scanning busy train stations for the suspects, NYPD Inspector Taylor jumped up from his Shabbos seudah to notify Shomrim and Hatzalah, who can instantly reach out to 2,000 shomer Shabbos Jews who carry phones on Shabbos to protect the safety of the community.
Once Shomrim and Hatzolah members were aware of the danger to the community, volunteers considered driving around to every single synagogue in the city early Shabbos morning so that every NYC shul would be warned by 8:30 am.
“On Friday night, I got a call from NYPD Inspector Richie Taylor, and he advised me that there was a credible threat to the community,” recounted Steve Weill, the coordinator of Flatbush Shomrim safety patrol. “Within minutes, we came up with a plan that we were going to implement at 6:00 am: just in case.
“We didn’t want to alarm the community, but we put a plan in place, in which hundreds of trained volunteers would reach all the synagogues and all the houses of worship in the areas and warn them of the danger.
“But we waited because we figured that the agencies, which are standing right here, know who these suspects are and hopefully will apprehend them by then and won’t have to alarm the community, and that is exactly what happened.
“This teamwork is really what makes New York a special case.”
The stunning success among New York law enforcement agencies to find both suspects who now face state, and possibly federal charges, caused the mayor to hit back against those in the city who do not appreciate and support the NYPD.
“There are a lot of critics out there, but I hope today they can understand what the NYPD does every day for the city of New York: Protecting communities, families of New Yorkers of every faith from the violence some want to inflict,” said the mayor who blamed online media platforms for allowing the online proliferation of what he called “a toxic brew” of hateful radicalism.
Photo Credit: Hamodia