New Middletown man accused of threats to Jewish center
NEW MIDDLETOWN — Police arrested a man in New Middletown on Saturday that they said made a perceived threat toward the Jewish Community Center in Youngstown.
James Reardon Jr., 20, is being held in the Mahoning County Jail on telecommunications harassment and aggravated menacing charges, according to jail records. Reardon is being held on $250,000 bond with a court hearing planned Monday morning.
New Middletown police Chief Vincent D’Egidio said Reardon posted a video on Instagram on July 11 of a man shooting a semi-automatic rifle with sirens and screams in the background. The caption post read, “Police identified the Youngstown Jewish Family Community shooter as local white nationalist Seamus O’Rearedon.”
The name is the Gaelic version of James Reardon.
The post tagged the Jewish Community Center of Youngstown.
“That kicked off an intense investigation, a very rapidly evolving investigation because of the way the world is,” D’Egidio told Morning Journal news partner WKBN-TV 27.
Police said the account was determined to belong to Reardon. The rest of his social media feed is filled with racial slurs and comments against minorities.
During their investigation, police said they provided extra security to the Jewish Community Center, as well as local temples in Liberty (Temple El Emeth), Youngstown (Rodef Sholom) and Boardman (Ohev Tzedek).
On Friday, a warrant was issued and the FBI Violent Crimes Task Force raided Reardon’s house on Eastwood Drive. Police seized dozens of rounds of ammunition, several semi-automatic weapons, a gas mask and bulletproof armor, WKBN reported.
They also found anti-Semitic and white nationalist propaganda.
“This is a person (who) has declared himself as a white nationalist. With the hate crimes and everything else going on, we want to make sure we do our part to make sure this person was taken off the streets very quickly,” D’Egidio said.
Reardon took part in the deadly protests in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017, according to media reports. He was interviewed for a documentary and said he was a white nationalist, he wanted to see a homeland only established for whites and that his parents did not agree with his opinions.
Saturday afternoon, the Youngstown Area Jewish Federation spoke about the threats. It said officials immediately contacted police and increased security at the Jewish Community Center, local synagogues and other Jewish facilities.
“I’m confident that we are doing what we need to do at this point, but the world has changed and we always have to assess what we are doing moving forward,” said Andrew Lipkin, executive vice president of the Youngstown Area Jewish Federation.
Police said they intend to keep extra security at the Jewish Community Center for some time. The FBI has not said yet if it will pursue federal charges.
“While we have no comment about Mr. Reardon and the criminal justice process that will determine what charges might be brought against him, I want to stress today that this is a clear example of everything going right. The system worked. We take very seriously the need to be vigilant to ensure the safety of all members of the local Jewish community, as well as all members and guests of our Jewish Community Center and our other agencies,” Lipkin said in an emailed statement.
Lipkin acknowledged receiving help in the investigation from New Middletown police, Youngstown police, Liberty police, the Department of Homeland Security, FBI, and the Secure Community Network, a national homeland security initiative of The Jewish Federations of North America.