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Ohio man arrested after threatening to shoot up Jewish community center

Weapons, ammunition, bulletproof armor and white-supremacist propaganda were found during an FBI raid on the suspect’s home after he posted a threatening video online.

An undated photo of James Reardon Jr. provided by the Mahoning County Sheriff’s Office.
An undated photo of James Reardon Jr. provided by the Mahoning County Sheriff’s Office.

A New Middletown Village man was arrested on Aug. 17 after police said he made a threat toward the Jewish Community Center of Youngstown, Ohio.

James Reardon, Jr., 20, is being held in Mahoning County Jail in Youngstown on telecommunications harassment and aggravated menacing charges, according to two Youngstown television stations.

New Middletown Police Chief Vincent D’Egidio said Reardon posted a video July 11 on Instagram of a man shooting a semi-automatic rifle with sirens and screams in the background with the caption: “Police identified the Youngstown Jewish Family Community shooter as local white nationalist Seamus O’Rearedon,” according to WKBN and WFMJ.

The post tagged the Jewish Community Center of Youngstown.

The television stations reported that a warrant was issued Aug. 16 and the FBI Violent Crimes Task Force raided Reardon’s house on Eastwood Drive. Police seized dozens of rounds of ammo, several semi-automatic weapons, a gas mask and bulletproof armor. They also found anti-Semitic and white nationalist propaganda.

Reardon was not home during the search, but arrived home shortly after law enforcement arrived and was taken into custody, the television stations reported.

Reardon is being held on $250,000 bond with a court hearing planned Aug. 19, the television stations said.

New Middletown is about 14 miles south of Youngstown.

The Gyspy Lane campus on which the JCC is located also includes: the Youngstown Area Jewish Federation; Levy Gardens, an assisted-living facility; Heritage Manor, a nursing home; Akiva Academy, a Jewish day school; and Jewish Family Services.

Andy Lipkin, executive vice president of the federation, sent a statement to the Youngstown Jewish community about the incident.

He told the Cleveland Jewish News on Aug. 17 that additional security was on the campus, at area synagogues and a swim club two miles away, also on Shabbat. He said security will remain increased for the “near future.”

The following is an excerpt from a statement read by Lipkin during an Aug. 17 news conference:

“While we have no comment about Mr. Reardon and the criminal justice process that will determine what charges might be brought against him, I want to stress today that this is a clear example of everything going right. The system worked. We take very seriously the need to be vigilant to ensure the safety of all members of the local Jewish community, as well as all members and guests of our Jewish Community Center and our other agencies. Security has become a vital part of the mission of the Youngstown Area Jewish Federation, a mission from which we will never waver.

“I am so very grateful to the local FBI and law enforcement for their swift and strong response to this matter and for their continued willingness to keep the lines of communication open at all times. It is because of their efforts that a very positive resolution to this matter has occurred. The positive result here is a clear example of the importance of monitoring social media to identify credible, hate-fueled threats before they are acted on.”

This article first appeared in the Cleveland Jewish News.

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