Mahoning County man charged in federal court with making threats against Jewish Community Center in Youngstown
A Mahoning County man was charged in federal court with making threats against a Jewish community center in Youngstown.
James P. Reardon, 20, of New Middletown, was charged in U.S. District Court with one count of transmitting threatening communications via interstate commerce. The investigation is ongoing.
According to the criminal complaint filed in the case:
New Middletown police contacted the FBI on August 16, 2019, after being made aware of a video posted on Instagram page by user “ira_seamus.” The video depicted Reardon holding an assault rifle. It began with Reardon stating “(expletive) a life.” He then held the rifle in multiple firing positions with audio of gunshots and sound effects of sirens and people screaming added into the background, according to the complaint.
The video also had a caption that stated: “ira_seamus Police identified the Youngstown Jewish Family Community shooter as local white nationalist Seamus O'Rearedon". The video is shown to be tagged at the Jewish Community Center of Youngstown, according to the complaint.
New Middletown police officers showed federal agents on August 16, 2019, other videos in which Reardon was depicted, including: a National Geographic documentary in which Reardon was at the "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in August 2017 and an Instagram video posted by Reardon in which he discharges two rounds of ammunition into a cover of a video while making a remark about “Jewish media.”
Members of law enforcement executed a search warrant at Reardon’s residence later that day. Upon entering the basement, investigators observed several firearms and clothing articles that were observed in Reardon’s Instagram video postings, including: an MP-40 sub-machine gun like the one depicted in the video; an AR-15 assault rifle; numerous Nazi World War II propaganda posters; a rifle bayonet; a Hitler Youth Knife; and vintage U.S. military equipment, according to the complaint.
Reardon pulled up to the residence while officers were executing the search warrant and was arrested without incident.
“The Constitution affords citizens many rights, but it does not allow people to threaten others with violence,” U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman said. “Law enforcement will continue to work together to thwart those who threaten people based on their religion, race or national origin. We don’t go to war with people who break the law, we arrest them and send them to prison.”
“In today's environment, shootings in public places, churches and schools have occurred too often,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Eric B. Smith. “Law enforcement must react swiftly to threats of violence. This defendant’s video demonstrated that he had access to weapons and he posed a threat to a Jewish community center. Law enforcement cannot wait to see if a shooting is going to occur, law enforcement must act quickly within the confines of the law to disrupt any potential violent act. The public is reminded -- if you see something, say something.”
If convicted, the defendant’s sentence will be determined by the Court after review of factors unique to this case, including the defendant’s prior criminal record, if any, the defendant’s role in the offense and the characteristics of the violation. In all cases, the sentence will not exceed the statutory maximum and in most cases it will be less than the maximum.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Mahoning Valley Violent Crimes Task Force and the New Middletown Police Department. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys David Toepfer and Yasmine Makridis.
A charge is only an allegation and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.