Cornell University student from Pittsford admits to posting threats to kill Jewish students on campus, according to criminal complaint

Cornell University student from Pittsford faces charges in antisemitic threats on campus (noon)

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ITHACA, N.Y. – A Cornell University junior from Pittsford admitted to posting threats to kill Jewish students on campus, according to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court.

Patrick Dai, 21, is accused of posting the hateful messages to the Cornell section of an online discussion site about fraternities and sororities, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. That includes a post from Sunday that says “gonna shoot up 104 west,” a Cornell dining hall that caters mostly to Kosher diets and is located next to the Cornell Jewish Center.

Another post from Saturday threatens to follow Jewish students on campus home and to slit their throats. A post about two hours later threatens to rape Jewish women, behead Jewish children, and says “your Synagogue will become graveyards.”

The complaint says Dai, 21, admitted to posting the threatening messages online during an FBI interview at the Cornell Police Department, which was recorded.

Mugshot for Patrick Dai (provided by the Broome County Sheriff’s Office)

The complaint was filed by a member of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force. According to the complaint, the FBI began investigating on Sunday after Cornell University Police alerted them to the post from that afternoon that said “gonna shoot up 104 west.” The post was soon taken down.

The FBI soon received tips about several other posts threatening Jewish students at Cornell on the same website. The complaint detailed four hateful posts. One post on Sunday threatens to slit the throat and stab any male Jewish students on campus and to rape and throw any female Jewish student off a cliff. The post also threatens to behead Jewish babies in front of their parents and to bring an assault riffle on campus to kill Jews.

The FBI says they tracked the IP address of one of the posts to Pittsford and the IP address of another post to Ithaca. On Sunday, the FBI served an emergency disclosure request to Charter Communications for the owner of the IP address and they identified Dai as the suspect. The Cornell University Police Department confirmed that he is a student.

News10NBC will be in Syracuse for Dai’s federal court appearance scheduled for Wednesday at 2:30 p.m. The charges carry 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.

Gov. Kathy Hochul made the announcement on Tuesday that State Police had a person of interest in custody in connection with threats of antisemitic violence at Cornell University. She was in Rochester on Wednesday and spoke about the arrest for the threats.

“If you do this, you will be caught and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” she said.

The threatening posts have prompted officials to send police to guard the Jewish center and the Kosher dining hall on campus. The complaint says that students have reported feeling unsafe on campus, some have chosen to relocate off campus, and others have had their relatives pick them up and bring them home.

Hochul pledged during a visit to Cornell’s Center for Jewish Living on Monday that State Police would work to identify anyone making online threats and hold them accountable.

“No one should be afraid to walk from their dorm or their dining hall to a classroom,” she said. “When speech crosses over into hate speech and into hate crimes, that’s when we have to make sure that students know that we’ll step up and protect them.”