A 19-year-old man from Michigan, Seann Pietila, has pleaded guilty to threatening to commit a mass shooting targeting Jewish people, conveying his intentions through Instagram messages. The FBI detained Pietila after being informed about his online exchanges, and found firearms, tactical vests, scopes, a Nazi flag, black skull masks, and a list of weapons including bombs, Molotov cocktails, and guns at his home, as well as the name of an East Lansing, Michigan, synagogue on his phone. Pietila faces up to five years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release, and he will no longer be allowed to possess any firearms.
A Michigan Teenager Pleads Guilty to Threats Against Jews
A 19-year-old Michigan man confessed to plotting a mass shooting against Jews in Instagram messages, authorities reported Monday.
Seann Pietila communicated plans for a mass killing and live-streaming the attack on Instagram last June. Prosecutors pointed out that Pietila sought to motivate others to confront the “Jewish controlled state.”
The US Department of Justice stated the messages depicted support for antisemitism, neo-Nazism, and past mass shooters.
This comes as threats or bias incidents targeting Jews, Muslims and Arabs have dramatically increased in the US. FBI Director Christopher Wray warned that antisemitism is at unprecedented levels in the country last month.
The FBI received a report on Pietila’s threats on June 13. Shortly after, they detained him and executed a search warrant on his residence where they discovered firearms, tactical vests, a Nazi flag, and other items, according to the criminal complaint.
The investigators found a list of weapons including bombs, Molotov cocktails, guns, along with the name of a Michigan synagogue in Pietila’s iPhone notes app, according to the complaint.
Although Pietila later told investigators that he didn’t plan on acting on the discussed mass killings, he pleaded guilty to a federal offense of transmitting threats in interstate commerce. The Justice Department stated he could face up to five years in jail, a $250,000 fine, three years of supervised release, and an arms prohibition. His sentencing is scheduled in March.
“At this time of increased nationwide threats, we reaffirm our commitment to prevent, disrupt, and prosecute illegal hate acts fueled by antisemitism, Islamophobia, or anti-Arab bias,” US Attorney for the Western District of Michigan, Mark Totten, emphasised in a statement.
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