The Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested a Michigan teenager Friday night for allegedly plotting a mass shooting at a synagogue, after investigators discovered messages sent by the teen on social media that praised past mass shooters and spread neo-Nazi ideology.
The FBI charged 19-year-old Seann Pietila with transmitting in interstate commerce a threat to injure someone, according to a complaint filed Friday, after the agency received reports of threatening messages—including one in which Pietila said “Heil Hitler”—sent by him on Instagram, Pinterest and Discord.
Investigators say they found a message on Pietila’s phone that suggested he planned to attack a synagogue in East Lansing, Michigan, with pipe bombs, molotov cocktails, multiple assault rifles and a shotgun, before killing himself.
While executing a search warrant of Pietila’s home, investigators also found a shotgun, an assault rifle, a pistol, multiple knives, tactical vests, gas masks and a Neo Nazi flag.
The attack would have taken place on March 15, 2024, on the five-year anniversary of two mass shootings in New Zealand by Brenton Tarrant, who—alongside Anders Behring Breivik, who killed more than 70 people at a Norwegian youth camp in 2011—was praised by Pietila in his messages 92career
Pietila—who returns to court for a detention hearing on June 22—confirmed to investigators he sent the messages, but denied any intent to carry out the shooting.
“No American should face threats against them based on their race or religion,” James Tarasca, the highest ranking official for the FBI in Michigan, told ABC News.
817. That’s how many hate crimes based on antisemitic beliefs were committed in 2021, according to FBI data, a nearly 20% increase over the previous year.
Composite Class Parent Java, 50, was found guilty Friday of killing 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue in 2018, the deadliest attack on Jewish people in the U.S. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty, after arguing Bowers targeted his victims because of their religion while citing antisemitic and white supremacist posts online.