Cornell student from Pittsford charged in antisemitic threats

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A 21-year-old Cornell University junior from Pittsford was arrested Tuesday on charges that he posted online threats aimed at Jewish students.

Patrick Dai faces federal criminal complaint charging him with posting threats to kill or injure another using interstate communications, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York.

The complaint alleges that Dai posted the threatening messages to the Cornell section of an online discussion site. Among them were posts calling for the deaths of Jewish people and a post that said “gonna shoot up 104 west,” referring to a dining hall at Cornell that caters predominantly to Kosher diets and is located next to the Cornell Jewish Center.

In another post, authorities say, Dai allegedly “threatened to ‘stab’ and ‘slit the throat’ of any Jewish males he sees on campus, to rape and throw off a cliff any Jewish females, and to behead any Jewish babies. In that same post, Dai threatened to ‘bring an assault rifle to campus and shoot all you pig jews.’”

If convicted, Dai faces a maximum term of five years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, and a term of supervised release of up to three years. Dai is expected to make his initial appearance today in federal court in Syracuse.

The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, which includes the New York State Police, is investigating this case along with the Cornell University Police Department and the Ithaca Police Department.

In a statement, Joel Malina, vice president for university relations at Cornell, expressed gratitude to the FBI “for working so swiftly to identify and apprehend the suspect in this case.”

Added Malina: “We remain shocked by and condemn these horrific, antisemitic threats and believe they should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. We know that our campus community will continue to support one another in the days ahead. Cornell Police will maintain its heightened security presence on campus as the university continues to focus on supporting the needs of our students, faculty and staff.”

Gov. Kathy Hochul met with Cornell students on Monday, after the online threats were reported. In a statement Tuesday, she said “I promised them New York State would do everything possible to find the perpetrator who threatened a mass shooting and antisemitic violence on campus.  … Public safety is my top priority and I’m committed to combating hate and bias wherever it rears its ugly head.”

Also on Tuesday, Hochul announced a series of actions in response to a surge in hate and bias incidents following the Oct. 7 Hamas terror attacks. Among the actions she highlighted were $50 million made available for local law enforcement agencies to prevent and solve hate crimes and other crimes, and $25 million in security funding for at-risk community groups and cultural centers, an expansion of the New York State Police’s social media analysis unit, and a new initiative from the Division of Human Rights.

“Let me be clear: we cannot allow hate and intimidation to become normalized,” Hochul said. “As governor, I reaffirm that there is zero tolerance in New York for antisemitism, Islamophobia, or hate of any kind, and it’s critical we deploy every possible state resource to keep New Yorkers safe.”

Paul Ericson is Rochester Beacon executive editor. The Beacon welcomes comments and letters from readers who adhere to our comment policy including use of their full, real name. Submissions to the Letters page should be sent to [email protected]

2 thoughts on “Cornell student from Pittsford charged in antisemitic threats

  1. Perhaps you can address how our community has raised such an individual in your next article. We have not come to terms with our collective “other” hate.

  2. Thank you for posting this news of Cornell’s and Governor Hochul’s swift response to hate threats.

    My friends at Temple Sinai passed on Rabbi Till’s recent suggestion that individuals contact their school leaders urging clear statements of zero tolerance of hate speech as terrorism.

    Further, we need to underscore that Hamas is a terrorist group, not the Palestinian people, declaring war on Israel.

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