Brighton Police arrest man after violent threat made against Islamic Center of Rochester members

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BRIGHTON, N.Y. Brighton police arrested 53-year-old William Putnam of Rochester after they said he made violent threats against members of the Islamic Center of Rochester.

Brighton Police said hate has no place in our community.

“We received a report yesterday of a threatening message left at the Islamic Center,” Brighton Police Capt. Jose Caraballo said.

Capt. Caraballo said after an investigation by Brighton police and the FBI, 53-year-old William Putnam is behind bars and accused of making those threats back on Nov. 15.

“We take these threats of specific, targeted threats seriously and we will follow that through and investigate it thoroughly,” Caraballo said.

Investigators said Putnam called a leader of the Islamic Center and left a voicemail that said quote, “I’m coming to your office with a few friends. We all have shotguns. We are walking into your front door and we are going to shoot everybody that’s on the phone in the [expletive] head. How do you like that? That’s what’s going coming your way very soon, you scumbag foreigner piece of [expletive].”

“We all have a responsibility to stop the hate and make sure that we’re applying our role to make an all-inclusive community,” Caraballo said.

According to the criminal complaint, the victim says Putnam had previously visited the Islamic Center on multiple occasions since 2021.

Putnam is charged with two felonies, aggravated harassment as a hate crime and making a terroristic threat. He’s also facing a federal charge. He was arraigned and taken to Monroe County Jail on no bail.

Investigators said Putnam has 12 previous criminal convictions.

“Different departments, same phrase,” he said. “‘If you see something, say something,’ and you really have to look at it from the standpoint of what you’re reporting and what you’re potentially preventing from happening.”

Putnam is being held without bail because of his previous felony convictions.

He’s due back in Brighton Town Court on Monday.