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Mich. man arrested after referencing mass shootings, mentioning synagogue

Seann Patrick Pietila, 19, was arrested Friday and charged with transmitting threats of committing a mass shooting. Photo provided by U.S. Department of Justice
Seann Patrick Pietila, 19, was arrested Friday and charged with transmitting threats of committing a mass shooting. Photo provided by U.S. Department of Justice

June 17 (UPI) -- A Michigan man who has expressed anti-Semitic views has been charged transmitting threats after federal officials found references to past mass shootings and a local Jewish synagogue on his phone.

Federal authorities on Friday charged Seann Patrick Pietila, 19, formerly of East Lansing, Mich., with transmitting a communication containing a threat to injure another, according to court filings.

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Law enforcement told the court they discovered a Nazi flag, a pistol, a rifle, a shotgun, and ammunition in Pietila's home.

Investigators said Pietila had expressed admiration for Christchurch Mosque shooter Brenton Tarant on Instagram, and posted images celebrating Anders Breivik, who killed over 70 people in a killing spree in Norway to social media.

They said they were able to link Pietila to his Instagram account, "finnishv64," by using open-source research methods, comparing images sent via Instagram to other available images of Pietila and his home.

According to Mark Totten, U.S. Attorney for the Western District Michigan, Pietila "evinced a neo-Nazi ideology, antisemitism, glorification of past mass shooters, and a desire and intent to mimic past mass shooters or mass casualty events."

Investigators say Pietila consented to have his phone searched and that they subsequently turned up a note mentioning the Shaarey Zedek Congregation in East Lansing.

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The note on Pietila's phone read:

Shaarey Zedek Congregation.

March 15th 2024.

Me and Limey.

Equipment: hand-made pipe bombs, molotovs, Two Stag-15s, 12 gauge shotgun and two back up Glock 18's AND a Akm full auto conversion.

Good morning sweetheart, I hope you slept well. Do you still hate me?

Authorities told the court Pietila admitted to investigators that he had taken part in conversations about committing mass killings and planned on killing himself with his shotgun and that he had written a suicide note.

Pietila appeared in court Friday and is scheduled to appear at a detention hearing on June 22.

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