Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Cornell student Patrick Dai charged for making threats online to the Cornell Jewish community


Update: Cornell student charged in threats against school’s Jewish community

by Matt Butler and Judy Lucas October 31, 2023Gov. Kathy Hochul speaks Monday morning at Cornell, with Cornell President Martha Pollack by her side. Credit: Michael Groll / Office of Governor Hochul

Update (8:26 p.m.): Federal prosecutors have announced charges against a Cornell University student for the violent threats posted online directed at the university’s Jewish community.

Patrick Dai, a 21-year-old junior at Cornell, was arrested Tuesday on a charge of posting threats to kill or injure another using interstate communications, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Southwick in a press release. Dai is originally from Pittsford, New York.

The release states that Dai is suspected of issuing all of the threats, which were posted under various anonymous usernames on Sunday. Dai will appear in federal court Nov. 1 in Syracuse.

Dai will face up to five years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000 and a term of supervised release of up to three years, according to Southwick.

Southwick does not disclose whether Dai’s threats appeared to be serious or not.

Ithaca Police and federal agents were observed raiding a building on Eddy Street in Collegetown Tuesday afternoon. IPD Acting Chief Ted Schwartz said questions had to be directed to the FBI Albany office. The Ithaca Voice is awaiting more information from the FBI on the results of the raid.
Original Story:

ITHACA, N.Y.—Cornell University officials and Gov. Kathy Hochul confirmed the arrest of a person of interest who allegedly posted violent threats against the school’s Jewish student population via an online forum Sunday.

No details about the individual have been released, including whether the person is affiliated with Cornell or not, or where they were found. According to a tweet from the governor, the person was taken into custody Tuesday morning.

Hochul, who visited the university Monday morning in the wake of the threats, posted a tweet around 1 p.m. Tuesday announcing a person of interest was taken into custody by the New York State Police for questioning.

Whether or not the person is in federal custody is unclear, despite Gov. Hochul’s statement crediting the NYS Police for their work. Police have yet to confirm any arrest in the case. Local law enforcement officials were also unaware of any arrests made in the case.

However, Cornell University Vice President of University Relations Joel Malina also confirmed the arrest in a statement to The Ithaca Voice.

“We can confirm that a subject has been identified as a suspect in the antisemitic threats made against our Jewish students on Sunday and is currently in custody,” Malina said. “We thank the FBI and other law enforcement agencies for their coordination. We will update the public as we have further details to release.”

The arrest comes two days after the threats were posted on the GreekRank forum page for Cornell, which is not affiliated with the school. Posted anonymously from several different accounts, the posts included various graphic threats targeting Jewish students on campus and threatened to “shoot up” 104West!, the kosher and multicultural dining hall on campus next to the Center for Jewish Living.

There are about 3,500 Jewish students enrolled at Cornell, equaling about one-fifth of the total student population at the school, according to Cornell’s Hillel chapter.

This is a developing story. More details will be added once they are confirmed.

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