Mother of Cornell student accused of making antisemitic threats opens up

Patrick Dai’s mother speaks out

Patrick Dai's mother speaks out

ROCHESTER, N.Y. —News10NBC is learning more from the mother of Patrick Dai, Cornell student and Pittsford native accused of posting antisemitic threats on the school’s online platform.

“It’s been a disaster for our family,” she said.

News10NBC’s Eriketa Cost spoke with Bing Liu on Thursday off-camera, about the mental health battle she said her son has been facing, leading up to arrest.

She tells us she does not want her face or voice on camera. She said she’s worried for her safety, and her 15 year-old son’s safety; strangers have been contacting her, through messages, and phone calls, threatening to come to her house and kill her.

Now that a few weeks have passed since the arrest, Liu said she’s focused on visiting her son. They only have an hour to visit in the jail, two days a week — and they can’t talk about the case.

“We only talk about mental health, medicine, have you eaten,” she said.

Her son is charged with making a threat, crossing interstate lines. That carries a maximum term of five years in prison. He’s accused of writing violent threats against Jewish students, posing as Hamas. 

His mother said she believes, the posts were to show Hamas being bad, and Patrick has never hated Jewish people. She said behind all of this, is a severe struggle with mental health.

Liu said her son started at Cornell, right before the pandemic hit. She said he has always been a nice kid, perhaps too nice, and has dealt with bullying for much of his life. The weekend before his arrest, Liu said they discussed getting a new medication for his depression — the current one wasn’t working.

Liu believes her son’s depression hit hard, about a year into school at Cornell.

“He and his therapist, need to talk,” she said. “His current medicine hasn’t been helping. Before the arrest we talked about it, how we need to switch the meds, but he can’t just stop taking them suddenly, he needs to talk to doctors. We discussed making appointments before I took him back to Cornell that weekend,” she said.

Liu added the son she knows is a caring person.

“Whenever I gave him cash, to spend out with his friends, he’d donate it, all of it,” she said. “He’s donated blood at least two times. When he mows the lawn, he mows the neighbor’s. The neighbors love him.”

She spent the weekend with him in their Pittsford home, just days before the arrest. Liu says several factors played a role in his depression getting worse — their father in China, her battle with cancer, and medication not working well.

Liu said her son had been speaking with a therapist for the past year. She hopes he can connect with his therapist in the future.

Liu said the Patrick we’ve seen in the news, isn’t the Patrick she knows. She said she’s asking the public to show mercy.

Liu said Patrick posted an apology after the threats he’s accused of went online. The apology, read in part: “Apologies, there is no room for divisive statements in person or online. I am sorry. A lesser man would try to hide behind a mask, and that is exactly what I did.”

In the note he goes on to talk about his mental health, saying no amount of depression or isolation excuses the actions.

“His brother’s best friend is Jewish, they would all get together. I lived in Israel for a year, and have a Star of David in the House,” she said. “I’m asking the public to show mercy, this is a person with illness, who needs treatment. We have Jewish friends, anyone who knew him, knows this is not Patrick.”

“It’s very hard not being able to talk to him whenever I want. I worry about his mental health,” she said.