Communication and vigilance between law enforcement and Jewish community was key in handling Ohio man’s threats toward JCC.
By Marcy Oster
(JTA) — An Ohio man was arrested after he appeared in a post on Instagram to threaten an attack on a local Jewish community center.
James P. Reardon Jr., 20, was arrested early Saturday in connection with the threat on the Youngstown JCC. He is being held on charges of telecommunications harassment and aggravated menacing, according to local reports.
A video posted on Instagram last week showed Reardon shooting an assault rifle, accompanied by the sounds of sirens and screams. Under the video Reardon added the caption, “Police identify shooter of Youngstown Jewish Family Center as local white nationalist Seamus O’Rearedon.” The Youngstown JCC was tagged in the post.
An investigation determined the account belonged to Reardon, the Youngstown Vindicator reported, citing police. It has since been removed from Instagram. He reportedly had several on-line pseudonyms.
New Middletown police and members of the Violent Crimes Task Force and the FBI served an arrest warrant for Reardon. A search of his home in the Youngstown suburb found assault weapons, extra ammunition, a gas mask and other items that were seized, according to the report.
Extra police security was provided to the JCC and three area synagogues after the arrest.
Reardon is an avowed anti-Semite and white nationalist and attended the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017, according to the local ABC affiliate, WYTV. Police discovered anti-Semitic and white nationalist propaganda during the search of his home as well.
“To me, it just reinforces what we are doing and why we are doing it,” says Gary Sikorski, Director of Community-Wide Security for the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit regarding the incident.
“We are well-connected to our law enforcement in Detroit, the Secure Community Network (SCN)… we have a great network of Federation security directors across the country, and we have a strong Federation security team,” Sikorski says.
On top of day-to-day protocols, Sikorski emphasizes that social media needs to be monitored and has become an avenue for like-minded people to be inspired by other attackers. Yet on the flip-side, social media allows for people to easily report posts like Reardon’s Instagram video.
“When these things happen, its a great reminder that these situations exist, these individuals are out there that are having these types of thoughts, and it requires everybody to participate on our proactive end and reactive end,” Sikorski says.
Allison Jacobs, Digital Editor, contributed to this report.