Feds announce charges against Youngstown Jewish Community Center threat suspect

Local News

Investigators said what James Reardon did is not an example of free speech

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WKBN) – Federal prosecutors announced charges Thursday against a New Middletown man accused of threatening to carry out a shooting at the Jewish Community Center of Youngstown.

James Reardon, 20, of New Middletown, is charged with making threats via a facility of interstate commerce.

The charge was announced during a press conference at the U.S. Attorney General’s Office in Cleveland.

U.S. Attorney Justin Herman said federal rules will give them a few weeks before an indictment is handed down and they will use that time to investigate who else may be involved.

“We will continue to use that time to further our investigation of Mr. Reardon’s conduct and to determine if others were involved.”

New Middletown Police Chief Vincent D’Egidio said Reardon posted a video on Instagram last month, showing him shooting a semi-automatic rifle with sirens and screams in the background.

The caption post read, “Police identified the Youngstown Jewish Family Community shooter as local white nationalist Seamus O’Rearedon.”

The post tagged the Jewish Community Center of Youngstown.

A woman saw the video and reported it to New Middletown police on August 17.

Officers arrested Reardon later that day after searching the home where he lives with his mother. There, they found semi-automatic weapons and Nazi propaganda.

“This case is the result of a concerned citizen who took the time to point out Mr. Reardon’s social media activity to a New Middletown police officer,” Herman said. “This case is just one over the past several weeks that are the product of our friends and neighbors seeing something and then saying something.”

Reardon’s mother told D’Egidio they had concerns about Reardon several years ago, but thought he had gotten past some of his issues and was working at a pizza shop in Boardman.

D’Egidio said Reardon’s parents were very distraught when they watched the video their son allegedly posted.

Investigators said what Reardon did is not an example of free speech.

Herman took a few moments during the press conference to offer a stern warning to those who adopt white nationalist ideology.

“The Constitution protects your right to speak, your right to think and your right to believe. If you want to waste the blessings of liberty by going down a path of hatred and failed ideologies, that is your choice,” he said. “You don’t have the right to threaten lives and wellbeing of our neighbors…they have a God-given, inalienable right to live peacefully, to worship as they please, to be free from fear they may become a target because of the color of their skin, the country of their birth or the form of their prayer.”

Herman credited the concerned citizen who reported the post and the quick action of Chief D’Egidio in building a case against Reardon and his ultimate arrest.

“If you become aware of something, please, please tell somebody,” D’Egidio said. “Let’s avert any type of tragedies.”

The Youngstown Area Jewish Federation issued the following statement following the filing of federal charges against Reardon:

We are grateful law enforcement took the threat posed by James Reardon, Jr. seriously, and have confidence in the legal process. We are thankful this is a case where everything went right. The outpouring of support from the community, locally, statewide, and nationally, is greatly appreciated. Though we know of no other threats to the Jewish community or our agencies, we continue to be vigilant about security at the Federation, its agencies, and the area synagogues. We are safe, secure, and open.”

Reardon has been transferred into federal custody. He’s expected to appear in federal court next week.

Editor’s note: The statement was issued by the Youngstown Area Jewish Federation, not the Jewish Community Center of Youngstown. This story has been corrected. We regret the error.

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