In a disturbing incident that underscores the rising concern of antisemitism, a 13-year-old boy from Canton, Ohio, is facing charges for allegedly planning a mass shooting targeting a local Jewish synagogue.
The juvenile, whose identity remains undisclosed due to legal protections for minors, is accused of inducing panic and disorderly conduct, both classified as misdemeanors. The charges stem from his alleged posting of a "detailed plan to complete a mass shooting" at Temple Israel in Canton, a city located south of Akron, on the live streaming platform Discord.
This unsettling development comes against the backdrop of a global and U.S.-specific surge in antisemitic incidents, with a 35 percent increase reported from 2021 to 2022 in the United States alone.
Documents released by the Stark County Sherriff's Office on Thursday reveal that an FBI agent brought the Discord posts to their attention on September 7. The plans, initially shared on September 1, included maps of the synagogue purportedly drawn by the boy and another individual in Washington state. The plans also outlined intentions to burn down and "shoot up" the building.
Upon questioning by law enforcement, the young suspect admitted to participating in multiple antisemitic and political groups on the Discord platform. Subsequently, he was taken into custody, and a trial hearing is scheduled for December 20.
Stark County Sheriff George Maier emphasized a zero-tolerance policy, stating, "We stand by a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to threats made against our community. Every threat is investigated thoroughly with the seriousness it deserves."
As of now, the boy's attorney has not responded to calls seeking comment. Meanwhile, Rabbi Komerofsky of Temple Israel declined to comment on the situation due to the involvement of a minor.
Expressing gratitude for law enforcement's prompt action, the Anti-Defamation League of Cleveland issued a statement on social media.
The organization expects the incident to serve as a "teachable" moment for young people, emphasizing that hate and threats, whether online or in real life, cannot and will not be tolerated.
As the legal proceedings unfold, this case sheds light on the critical issue of online threats and the imperative to address them swiftly and decisively.