Authorities arrested two men at Pennsylvania Station in New York on Saturday and seized a large hunting knife and an illegal firearm with a 30-round magazine, in what they described as a “developing threat to the Jewish community.”
The New York City Police Department has “strategically” deployed resources to “sensitive locations” across the city in response to the threat, police commissioner Keechant L. Sewell said in a statement.
Commissioner Sewell not detailed inform about the nature of the threat or provide information about the arrested men.
Two law enforcement officials with knowledge of the situation said that recent social media posts had included threats of violence against Jewish sites, including “the shelling of a synagogue,” and there had been an indication of an act of violence that was taking place happened on Friday.
One of the officers said the additional calls following the arrests were precautionary and not because of any further specific threats.
Commissioner Sewell said a joint terrorism task force of the police department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other investigators uncovered the threat Friday and “acted quickly to gather information, identify the individuals behind it and their ability to cause harm.” to neutralize operationally”.
Authorities issued an alert late Friday identifying a man they said had recently threatened synagogues in the New York area.
They said the man, Christopher Brown, had a history of mental illness and had recently expressed interest in coming to New York City to purchase a gun.
A police officer said Mr. Brown was one of the two men arrested at Penn Station on Saturday. Police did not publicly identify the second man.
Commissioner Sewell said “sharp-eyed” Metropolitan Transit Authority officers arrested the pair as they entered Penn Station.
A police officer said MTA officers arrested the men at Penn Station based on the alert along with “a phone ping indicating they were headed there.”
John Mueller, Chief of the MTA Police Department, said in a statement that two police officers from the agency identified the men and conducted a search, during which a large hunting knife was found.
An investigation led to the seizure of an illegal Glock firearm, the 30-round magazine and several other items, Chief Mueller said. It was not immediately clear where the gun was found and who it belonged to.
In a joint statement, the Community Security Initiative, Community Security Service and Anti-Defamation League said the groups had worked with federal and local law enforcement officials over the past 24 hours and were grateful the threats were quickly mitigated.
“This comes at a time of heightened sensitivity in the New York-area Jewish community, after an 18-year-old man was accused just two weeks earlier of broadcasting threats to the New Jersey Jewish community,” the groups said. “As always, we ask the community to remain vigilant, but no further immediate community action is required at this time.”
Chelsea Rose Marcius, McKenna Oxenden and William K Rashbaumcontributed reporting.