NEW YORK — A “developing threat” to New York City’s Jewish community was averted early Saturday by the arrests of two armed men at Penn Station, New York City Police Department Commissioner Keechant Sewell said in a statement.
Christopher Brown, 22, of Riverhead, Long Island, and Matthew Mahrer, 22, of the Upper West Side, were arrested in Penn Station, said police sources.
Brown, who was wearing a swastika armband when he was busted, was charged with making terroristic threats, harassment and criminal possession of a weapon, said the sources. The weapon was a large hunting knife, the sources said.
Mahrer, also 22, was charged with criminal possession of a weapon, which sources said was an illegal Glock 17 firearm.
Brown and Mahrer were arrested by “sharp-eyed MTA police officers,” Sewell’s statement said. Besides the knife and gun, they also had a “30-round magazine, and several other items,” Sewell said.
The threat by the two men was uncovered Friday by state and federal law enforcement, Sewell said.
Authorities “moved swiftly to gather information, identify those behind it, and operationally neutralize their ability to do harm,” Sewell’s statement said.
What the men intended to do with their weapons was not made clear in the statement.
Police commanders are “strategically deploying assets at sensitive locations throughout New York City,” Sewell said.
A police bulletin issued Friday and posted to Twitter on Saturday by City Council member Ari Kagan, D-Brooklyn, identified Brown as a suspect, and said he has a history of mental illness. Brown had threatened synagogues in the New York area, the alert said.
The alert was later removed from Kagan’s Twitter account.
Saturday’s arrests come weeks after the FBI said it had “credible information of a broad threat to synagogues" in New Jersey, prompting New York City Mayor Eric Adams to announce that NYPD officers were sent to Jewish communities and houses of worship “out of an abundance of caution.”
New Jersey federal agents on Nov. 10 arrested Sayreville, New Jersey, resident Omar Alkattoul, 18, on federal charges of making a threat to attack a synagogue “based on his hatred of Jews.”