Cornell student arrested for threatening to ‘shoot up’ campus, kill Jewish students

Cornell student arrested for threatening to ‘shoot up’ campus, kill Jewish studentsCornell student arrested for threatening to ‘shoot up’ campus, kill Jewish students
via Twitter, Unsplash
Michelle De Pacina
November 1, 2023
A junior student at Cornell University was arrested for allegedly making violent online threats against Jewish individuals.
Dai’s violent threats: Patrick Dai, a 21-year-old engineering student from Pittsford, New York, allegedly threatened to “shoot up” a campus dining hall serving kosher food. The hall is located next to the Cornell Jewish Center, which provides housing for Jewish students.
In other online posts, Dai reportedly threatened to “stab” and “slit the throat” of Jewish males on campus, rape and throw Jewish females off a cliff and behead Jewish babies in front of their parents, according to court documents. Dai also threatened to bring an assault rifle to campus to target Jewish individuals. 
FBI investigation: The FBI has traced Dai’s online activity to his IP address at his off-campus apartment. Dai, who was arrested on Tuesday, confessed to posting the comments under aliases like “glorious hamas,” “kill jews” and “sieg heil.” 
He was charged with posting threats to kill or injure another using interstate communications, a charge that could lead to up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Dai is scheduled to make his first appearance in Syracuse federal court on Wednesday.
Patrick Dai. via Broome County Sheriff’s Office
Statements of officials: The alarming threats prompted New York Gov. Kathy Hochul to visit the campus and call for increased security for Jewish students and organizations.
“Every single New Yorker has a right to feel safe and to be safe as they go about their daily lives, and we must accept nothing less,” she stated. “As governor, I reaffirm that there is zero tolerance for hate in our state.” 
Joel M. Malina, Cornell’s vice president for university relations, also released a statement on Tuesday night.
“Cornell University is grateful to the FBI for working so swiftly to identify and apprehend the suspect in this case, a Cornell student, who remains in custody,” Malina said, according to NBC News. “We remain shocked by and condemn these horrific, antisemitic threats and believe they should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.” 
Statement of Dai’s parents: In an interview with the New York Post, Dai’s parents said that their son suffers from depression, noting that Dai sank into the disorder in 2021, a year after he started his engineering studies at the university.
“My son is in severe depression. He cannot control his emotions well due to the depression. No, I don’t think he committed the crime,” Dai’s father said.  
Recounting Dai’s life: According to Dai’s parents, he entered Cornell University as a National Merit Scholar and an accomplished student, noting that he was a 12-time AP Scholar who also volunteered at Rochester General Hospital. At Cornell, he reportedly tutored other engineering students, served as the director of logistics for the school’s Science Olympiad and held a position as an orientation leader.
However, after taking two semesters off from his studies on a doctor’s recommendation to cope with his lack of motivation and life goals, Dai’s situation did not improve. His communication with his parents also abruptly ceased just before his arrest. 
“He was always very nice to society, well organized, helpful to my family and his classmates before 2021,” his father said. “He told us he lost his life goal and motivation … As parents, we tried to give him more love. My wife called him or sent messages to him many times but got no answers. She was worrying that he may commit suicide and drove to his apartment to see what happened.”
Dai’s parents, while not believing that Dai was responsible for the antisemitic posts, suspect a link between his depression and the case. They suggested for reporters and investigators to reach out to his doctor for more information about the complex connection.
Rise in antisemitism: The issue comes amid a spike in antisemitism on college campuses across the U.S. incited by the Israel-Hamas War. According to the Anti-Defamation League, preliminary data shows that there has been a nearly 400% increase in reported incidents of antisemitic harassment, vandalism and assault since Hamas, an Islamist militant group, launched an unprecedented attack on Israel on Oct. 7, killing more than 1,400 people.
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