Cornell student, 21, charged with threatening to shoot, slit throats of Jewish students could face 5 years in jail

Suspect believed behind posts threatening to “stab,” “slit the throat” of and “shoot up” Jewish peers at Cornell University arrested Tuesday facing five years in prison.

Tuesday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Northern District of New York released a statement detailing that 21-year-old engineering student Patrick Dai had been arrested for allegedly posting a series of threatening messages to an online forum. The junior at Cornell was even said to have admitted the posts according to the federal complaint obtained by NBC News.

“Dai admitted, after receiving Miranda warnings, that he was the person who used the internet to post the threatening messages described above,” the document stated based on an interview conducted by the FBI.

Facing up to five years in prison, three years supervised release and as much as a $250,000 fine, the Justice Department release explained Dai was arrested “on a federal criminal complaint charging him with posting threats to kill or injure another using interstate communications.”

As previously reported, members of the school’s Jewish community became aware of messages posted to a forum said to be unaffiliated with the university. The threats posed to students at their homes and at the kosher dining hall included, “watch out pig jews. jihad is coming. nowhere is safe. your synagogues will become graveyards. your women will be raped and your children will be beheaded. glory to Allah.”

FBI investigators had contacted the website where the posts had been made and a disclosure request found posts associated with the same IP address despite their being listed as having different authors.

The day before the announcement of the arrest, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) had been visiting the campus to show support for the Jewish community and upon learning of Dai’s arrest took to social media to report, “Law enforcement has identified a person of interest in relation to threats of a mass shooting and antisemitic violence at Cornell University. This individual is currently in New York State Police custody for questioning.”

“When I met with Cornell students yesterday, I promised them we would do everything possible to find the perpetrator,” she added. “Public safety is my top priority and I’m committed to combatting hate and bias wherever it rears its ugly head.”

An image with some of those students included the assurance, “We have no tolerance for hate or violence, and I have directed @nyspolice to increase security on college campuses and across New York.”

As Dai was scheduled to appear in Syracuse court Wednesday and an image purported to be him began circulating on social media, including from the non-partisan group StopAntisemitism that asserted his LinkedIn profile listed him as a “safety officer” on campus, the suspect’s parents spoke with the New York Post about concern for their son’s mental health.

“My son is in severe depression. He cannot control his emotion well due to the depression. No I don’t think he committed the crime,” the father told the newspaper. “My wife called him or sent messages to him many times but got no answers. She was worrying that he may commit suicide and drove to his apartment to see what happened.”

As indicated by the DOJ, “The charges and the allegations in the complaint are merely accusations. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.”


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Kevin Haggerty


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