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

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

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