COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — A man is facing charges after police said he made a terroristic threat against a Jewish school on a social media post.
According to court documents, Columbus police were made aware of a social media post from March 11 that showed Thomas Monroe Develin, who was a private security guard for a Jewish K-12 school, holding a handgun and a caption that read, “I’m at a Jewish school and about to make it everyone’s problem.”
Another post from Develin featured a photo and a caption stating, “The playground is about to turn into a self-defense situation,” court documents state.
Develin also threatened to shoot parents coming to pick up children from the school, according to court records.
According to the Ohio National Guard, Develin enlisted in the guard in 2016 but has since been suspended.
Joel Marcovitch, president and CEO of Jewish Columbus, said that with increased antisemitism in recent months, the Jewish community has been preparing for possible threats.
“We’re not going to bend to intimidation or threats,” he said.
What’s particularly frightening about Develin’s case, according to retired FBI agent Harry Trombitas, is that the security guard was a well-known person at school with access to key information like class schedules.
“If somebody was really interested in causing a lot of harm, they would know when the most critical time would be to inflict the most damage, maybe the location where the most damage can be done,” Trombitas said.
Upon learning of Develin’s alleged threat against the school, a spokesperson for the Ohio National Guard said law enforcement was notified.
“The National Guard does what it can to try and screen these people — but they don’t always come to the surface, and again, that’s why we have to have these other steps in place,” the spokesperson said.
Marcovitch said he’s thankful for police and the person who reported the threat.
“It would be unfathomable to even think what the alternative was but partnerships between police and organizations like us are critical for the safety of our community,” he said.
JewishColumbus released the following statement in regards to the threat:
“On March 29, JewishColumbus was informed by law enforcement of a credible antisemitic threat from a private security guard at Columbus Torah Academy. Law enforcement identified the source and took the necessary steps to nullify the threat. Securing our community is the top priority at JewishColumbus and we remain in close contact with our law enforcement partners as the investigation continues.
We want to express our gratitude to the quick-thinking law enforcement officials at the local, state and national agencies. Their training, planning and professionalism stopped the threat. We believe strongly that those implicated in this threat will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.
This threat was an act of antisemitism. It was a cowardly act of intimidation. It was an attempt to silence our Jewish beliefs. For far too long Jews have been mentally and physically intimidated in spaces online, at schools, universities and in our community. Virulent antisemitic rhetoric breeds extremism and has no place in our community.
We are a proud and diverse Jewish community. We stand resolute against antisemitism and remain committed to safeguarding our institutions. It is our right to live peacefully as Jews and we will not cower to intimidation. Our Jewish community is here to stay and we will not be silenced.”
Develin has been charged with a felony charge of making terroristic threats and was given a $1 million bond during an arraignment Friday. He is scheduled to be back in court April 8.