Matthew Mahrer and Christopher Brown arrested threatening NYC synagogues after Brown making recent anti semitic threats on social media.
Matthew Mahrer, 22, was ordered held on $150,000 bail at his arraignment in Manhattan Criminal Court on charges of criminal possession of a weapon though his lawyer asked that he be released on his own recognizance.
‘There are a lot of questions here,’ defense attorney Brandon Freycint said of Mahrer, who has allegedly been diagnosed with autism, bipolar disorder, anxiety and ADHD.
‘My client is of Jewish heritage. He resides with his parents and his grandfather is actually a 93-year-old Holocaust survivor — and my client is his part-time caretaker,’ Freycinet said according to a report via the nypost.
Mahrer and his accomplice, Christopher Brown were arrested Friday night after the two suspects were spotted by MTA Police at Penn Station. Brown was revealed to be carrying a brown bag carrying weapons and a Nazi armband according to police sources. A large hunting knife was also recovered on Brown’s persons.
‘big moves on Friday’
Cops seized a loaded handgun with an extended magazine and a bulletproof vest from Mahrer’s Upper West Side apartment that he and Brown allegedly planned to use in a synagogue attack, prosecutors said.
Freycinet argued that his client has no criminal history along with being of Jewish heritage. Nevertheless, investigators feared an imminent attack may have been prevented.
Brown had been on law enforcement’s radar after advocating antisemitic hate on social media, including his tweet last week where he wrote, ‘going to ask a priest if I should become a husband or shoot up a synagogue.’
One of his latest messages indicated ‘big moves on Friday’.
Mahrer according to his parents had spent time in homeless shelters before moving in with them about a year ago, the attorney told the court.
‘Based on that, judge, my client should not be implicated in anything involving hatred towards his own people and his own religion,’ he said.
Assistant District Attorney Emilio Hernandez said Mahrer and Brown traveled to Pennsylvania together and bought the gun ‘with intent to use it in an attack at a synagogue.’
— New York Post (@nypost) November 20, 2022
Rise in anti-Semitic incidents
The FBI and NYPD had been on the trail of Mahrer and Brown, a ‘diagnosed schizophrenic’ who recently told family members that he wanted to go to New York and buy a gun, sources said.
‘The parents of this defendant alerted police officers to the existence of a firearm within the backpack of the defendant inside the defendant’s apartment,’ Hernandez said.
Prosecutors claimed the pair were aware that police were looking for them and decided to leave the firearm in the backpack in the apartment.
Mahrer is due back in court Wednesday.
Brown, 21, is charged with making terroristic threats, aggravated harassment and criminal possession of a weapon, the NYPD said. He was not arraigned Saturday.
Federal prosecutors are deciding whether more charges will be added to Brown’s case.
New York state leads the nation in anti-Semitic incidents, with at least 416 reported in 2021, including at least 51 assaults – the highest number ever recorded by the Anti-Defamation League in New York. There were 12 assaults reported in 2020, the ADL said in an audit last week.
A total of 2,717 antisemitic incidents were reported last year across the nation – a 34% increase compared to 2,026 in 2020, according to the ADL.