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Holy Schnitzel: Neo-Nazi Teenager Arrested for Planning a Mass Shooting at a Synagogue

The FBI has arrested a 19-year-old man from Michigan who was allegedly planning a mass shooting at a synagogue. Seann Pietila was charged with transmitting a communication containing a threat to injure another. He had expressed neo-Nazi and anti-Semitic ideologies online and had communicated with another user on Instagram who shared his views.

Image credits: CBS News

When the FBI searched Pietila’s home, they found a cache of weapons, a Nazi flag, a ghillie suit, gas masks, and military sniper/survival manuals. A search of his phone found a message in the Notes app where he had identified a synagogue in East Lansing, a date, and a list of equipment. The note mentioned the Shaarey Zedek Congregation in East Lansing and the date of March 15th, 2024, which was the fifth anniversary of the Christchurch mass shooting in New Zealand.

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Pietila also talked about his admiration for previous mass shooters, according to the criminal complaint. Further investigation into his social media accounts found other images and posts that included posts of Nazi imagery and other mass shooters.

Image credits: Lansing State Journal

The FBI received a report on Tuesday about threatening communications made online. Agents found social media messages from Pietila and learned that he had attended Lansing’s Eastern High School during the 2020-21 school year. He was detained when the FBI executed a search warrant at his home on Friday.

Pietila admitted to taking part in conversations about committing mass casualty incidents or mass killings but told investigators he did not intend to follow through with the mass killings he had discussed. He also indicated that he planned to kill himself with a shotgun found in the home and acknowledged he wrote a suicide note found in his cellphone.

“Antisemitic threats and violence against our Jewish communities – or any other group for that matter – will not be tolerated in the Western District of Michigan,” said U.S. Attorney Mark Totten.

“No American should face threats against them based on their race or religion,” said James A. Tarasca, the Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Michigan.

Image credits: CNN

Pietila made his first court appearance on Friday, and a judge ordered that a public defender be appointed to represent him. A detention hearing was scheduled for June 22.

The alleged plan to attack a synagogue is a chilling reminder of the rise of hate crimes and anti-Semitism in the United States. It is crucial to combat these ideologies and protect vulnerable communities from violent attacks.

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