Man linked to East Lansing may have targeted synagogue for mass shooting

DETROIT — An Upper Peninsula man with ties to East Lansing, anti-Semitic views and a desire to emulate past mass shootings has communicated plans to kill people and may have targeted an East Lansing synagogue, federal officials said.

Seann Patrick Pietila, 19, most recently of Pickford, was arrested on Friday and charged with transmitting a communication containing a threat to harm another person, the US attorney’s office said.

Federal authorities released this photo of a phone in connection with a criminal case Friday, June 16, 2003

Federal authorities released this photo of a phone in connection with a criminal case Friday, June 16, 2003

A search of Pietila’s home revealed ammunition, magazines, a shotgun, rifle, pistol, knives and other firearm accessories, as well as a Nazi flag, face masks gas and military manuals, officials said.

A note was found in Pietila’s phone mentioning Congregation Shaarey Zedek in East Lansing and the date “March 15, 2024”, officials said.

The note goes on to say, “Me and Limey, gear: pipe bombs, molotovs, two Stag-15s, 12-gauge shotgun and two back-up Glock 18s AND a full Akm automatic conversion,” officials said.

Pietila “is accused of communicating with others on social media and” of manifesting neo-Nazi ideology, anti-Semitism, the glorification of former mass shooters, and the desire and intention to imitate former mass shooters or high casualty events,” U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan, Mark Totten said in a press release.

In a court filing, an FBI agent said the agency received a report on Tuesday of threatening online communications.

Officers found Pietila’s social media posts and learned that he attended Lansing Oriental High School during the 2020-21 school year, according to the officer’s file.

Pietila was arrested when the FBI executed a search warrant at his home on Friday, according to the court filing.

He told investigators he moved to Pickford a week prior and previously lived with his mother in East Lansing, near the Michigan State University campus, according to the filing. He said he was “most likely” in East Lansing when he communicated threats, according to the document.

Pietila admitted to taking part in conversations about mass casualties or mass killings, but told investigators he had no intention of following up on the killings he discussed, the filing said. of the court.

Pietila also indicated that he planned to kill himself with a shotgun found in the house and admitted to writing a suicide note found in his cell phone, the officer wrote in support of the criminal charges.

Pietila made his first court appearance on Friday. A judge ordered that a public defender be appointed to represent him. A detention hearing was scheduled for June 22.

Contact Ken Palmer at Follow him on Twitter @KBPalm_lsj.

This article originally appeared in the Lansing State Journal: Feds: Man with East Lansing ties may have targeted synagogue for mass shooting

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