Man with East Lansing ties may have been targeting synagogue for mass shooting

ATTORNEY

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

Seann Patrick Pietila, 19, most recently of Pickford, was arrested Friday and charged with transmitting a communication containing a threat to injure another, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Federal officials released this photo of a phone in connection with a criminal case on Friday, June 16, 2023.

Federal officials released this photo of a phone in connection with a criminal case on Friday, June 16, 2023.

A search of Pietila’s home turned up ammunition, magazines, a shotgun, a rifle, a pistol, knives and other firearm accessories, along with a Nazi flag, gas masks and military manuals, officials said.

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

The note goes on to say, “Me and Limey, Equipment: hand-made pipe bombs, molotovs, Two Stag-15s, 12 guage shotgun and two back up Glock 18s AND a Akm full auto conversion,” officials said.

Pietila “is alleged to have communicated with others on social media and “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,” U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan Mark Totten said in a news release.

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

Agents found social media messages from Pietila and learned that he had attended Lansing’s Eastern High School during the 2020-21 school year, according the agent’s filing.

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

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

Pietila admitted taking part in conversations about committing mass casualty incidents or mass killings but told investigators he did not intend to follow through with the mass killings he had discussed, the court filing said.

Pietila also indicated he planned to kill himself with a shotgun found in the home and acknowledged he wrote a suicide note found in his cellphone, the agent wrote in support of 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 [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @KBPalm_lsj.

This article originally appeared on Lansing State Journal: Feds: Man with East Lansing ties may have been targeting synagogue for mass shooting

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