Michigan man arrested, accused of plotting mass shooting at synagogue

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(The Hill) – A Michigan man has been arrested over an alleged plot to carry out a mass shooting at a synagogue, according to a criminal complaint filed against the teen. 

The complaint charges 19-year-old Seann Pietila with transmitting in interstate commerce a threat to injure someone. FBI Special Agent Ryan Roskey said in the complaint that Pietila demonstrated through Instagram messages his neo-Nazi ideology, antisemitic beliefs, suicidal ideologies, and his praise of past mass shooters that have had similar ideologies, as well as his intent to copy their actions. 

The complaint states Pietila specifically mentioned that he admires Brent Tarrant, who carried out mass shootings at mosques in New Zealand in 2019, killing more than 50 people. The Instagram account that Pietila used sent a message saying they needed a camera for livestreaming, as Tarrant did during his attack, and another saying they planned to mimic “b.t’s” attack, per the complaint.

Investigators also found a Pinterest account from Pietila that included posts containing Nazi imagery and references to mass shooters. They were able to connect the Instagram and Pinterest accounts to Pietila and also found TikTok and Discord accounts tied to him to confirm his identity. 

The FBI carried out a search warrant at Pietila’s home on Friday and arrested him. Pietila confirmed during an interview with authorities that he was the Instagram user but said he did not intend to carry out the mass shootings that he referenced, per the complaint.

Officials found a shotgun, rifle, pistol, ammunition, rifle magazines, multiple knives and other instruments, firearm accessories, two tactical vests, a red and white Nazi flag, gas masks and survivor manuals during the search of his home. 

Pietila consented to investigators searching his iPhone that was also recovered during the search, and they found a note referring to a synagogue in East Lansing, Michigan, according to the complaint. The note lists a date of March 15, 2024, the five-year anniversary of Tarrant’s attacks, and mentions pipe bombs, Molotov cocktails and multiple firearms. 

Pietila told investigators that he planned to use the shotgun he had to kill himself and wrote a suicide note on his phone, the complaint states.

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