ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — 21-year-old Patrick Dai, a student at Cornell University and Pittsford native, appeared in Syracuse federal court Wednesday after allegedly threatening Jewish students on campus.
Dai waived his right to a bail hearing and will remain in jail until his next court appearance November 15.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s office, Dai is charged with posting threats to kill or injure another using interstate communications.
Dai, a junior at Cornell, shared multiple posts online where he allegedly threatened to shoot up a dining hall offering Kosher diets, threatened to stab or slit the throat of any Jewish man on campus, and allegedly threatened to rape Jewish women at the university, and behead Jewish babies.
If convicted, Dai faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000.
A crew from News 8’s sister station in Syracuse, WSYR-TV, says Dai’s mother was present in court Wednesday.
News 8 spoke with Monica Gebell, director of community relations for the Jewish Federation of Greater Rochester, who addressed the shock and disbelief of the remarks. Gebell says it’s prompted a conversation of safety as well as how to process hate speech such as this.
“I think this particular story hits home because this young man is from the Rochester area, and especially, Pittsford. I tend to think we think things are okay, and maybe cases of anti-Semitism or people who have hatred are less likely to be so overt about it. It just goes to show all of us that, first of all, we don’t really know who we go to school with sometimes. Maybe we don’t know them well, maybe we don’t know their intentions, or how they feel about people. But, we also can’t consider that any of our environments are 100 percent safe,” said Gebell.
Cornell University released a statement on the arrest, saying in part, “We remain shocked by and condemn these horrific, anti-Semitic threats and believe they should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. We know that our campus community will continue to support one another in the days ahead.”
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Pittsford Central School District has confirmed Dai is a graduate of Pittsford Mendon High School, adding the district would not be commenting further.
This is a developing story. Check back with News 8 for updates.