NEW YORK (VINnews) — A security guard at the Columbus Torah Academy in Ohio was arrested this week by local police after making anti-Semitic threats online against the school.
Thomas Develin, 24, of the Northwest Side, was arrested Wednesday. Develin had posted a photo of himself on social media site Discord holding a gun with the message “I’m at a Jewish school and about to make it everyone’s problem.” He also posted about wanting to shoot the parents picking up their children from school. A second photo was captioned: “The playground is about to turn into a self defense situation.”
Police were alerted to the post and arrested Develin for his threats. He is currently being held in the Franklin County jail.
Joel Marcovitch, CEO of JewishColumbus, the local federation arm and JewishColumbus board chair Audrey Tuckerman issued a press release on Thursday calling Develin’s threat “an act of anti-Semitism.”
“It was a cowardly act of intimidation. It was an attempt to silence our Jewish beliefs. For far too, long Jews have been mentally and physically intimidated online, at schools, universities,” they said. “Virulent anti-Semitic rhetoric breeds extremism and has no place in our community.”
“We are a proud and diverse Jewish community,” he continued. “We stand resolute against antisemitism and remain committed to safeguarding our institutions. It is our right to live peacefully as Jews and we will not cower to intimidation. Our Jewish community is here to stay and we will not be silenced.”
The Columbus Torah Academy also released a statement to 10TV, saying immediate actions were taken to identify the source of the threat and that there is currently no risk to the campus.
Speaking to JNS on Friday, Marcovitch said that the school was notified by law enforcement a few days ago about the threat and were able to immediately convene representatives from the local day schools, preschools and synagogues to discuss the situation, as well as determining the communal response.
“What I’ve been telling people is that ‘yes, the guard was part of a company that was hired by the school, however, the systems we have in place, the partnership we have with law enforcement worked this time,’ ” he said, adding that the relationships that local officials have with the Jewish community were critical in this instance.
Marcovitch added that the school would now be relying on local police for security instead of private security guards. The move is intended to reassure parents, who had expressed their fears after Develin’s threats were publicized.
“For a security guard at a Jewish school to allegedly make deadly, terroristic threats is unthinkable. First and foremost, we are thankful that no lives were taken,” said a post on Twitter from the regional office of the Anti-Defamation League. “This is yet another sobering reminder that anti-Semitism left unchecked breeds extremism and violence. Anti-Semitism has no place in Columbus, Ohio, or anywhere.”
“Secure Community Network has been coordinating closely with JewishColumbus as part of our ongoing partnership with the Federation and community,” said SCN national director and CEO Michael Masters. “We are grateful for the swift, effective efforts by local, state and federal law enforcement. [The] arrest is a clear reminder of the importance of coordinated, comprehensive security programs undertaken in collaboration with law enforcement and the community. While the quick actions of all parties prevented a potential incident, we are reminded of the need to be vigilant every day.”