Pair of Penn Station suspects busted with weapons, had plans to harm Jewish community: NYPD

Penn Station
The 34th Street-Penn Station subway platform
Photo via Getty Images

Two men picked up at Penn Station on Saturday with weapons, including a loaded handgun, allegedly had plans to harm members of the Jewish community, New York City’s top cop said Saturday.

Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell praised members of the NYPD and MTA Police Department for their quick work in arresting the two suspects, identified in published reports as Christopher Brown and Matthew Mahrer. 

According to police, Brown, 22, had been wanted for making terroristic threats against synagogues around the New York City area. An NYPD intelligence alert that Brooklyn City Council Member Ari Kagan posted to his Twitter account Saturday noted that Brown allegedly “has a history of mental illness and has recently expressed interest in traveling to NYC to purchase a firearm.”

The 70th Precinct Field Intelligence Team in Brooklyn was alerted to the threats, prompting the intelligence alert and a referral to the FBI/NYPD Joint Terrorism Task Force and the NYPD Counterterrorism and Intelligence Bureau. Police officers were urged to consider the suspect “armed and dangerous” and to approach with caution.

Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell
Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell speaks with a patrolman.Photo by Dean Moses

“By early Saturday, the NYPD’s exhaustive intelligence-gathering led to the arrest by sharp-eyed MTA police officers of two individuals entering Penn Station, in Manhattan, and the seizures of a large hunting knife, an illegal Glock 17 firearm and 30-round magazine, and several other items,” Sewell said.

MTA Police Department Chief John Mueller said the officers had spotted Brown and Mahrer at the station and positively identified them as the persons of interest. They then searched both men, leading to the discovery of the hunting knife and, later, the handgun.

“The tremendous police work here reflects the MTA PD’s core purpose – protecting millions of daily commuters, in collaboration with our local, state and federal law enforcement partners,” Mueller said.

Both men were then arrested and turned over to the NYPD and the FBI, the chief added.

Brown hails from Aquebogue in Suffolk County and faces charges of making terroristic threats and criminal possession of a weapon, according to published reports. Mahrer, 22, of Manhattan, meanwhile, was booked on a weapons possession charges; his connection to Brown remains under investigation.

Meanwhile, Sewell noted that the NYPD has “strategically” deployed “assets at sensitive locations throughout New York City” as an additional precaution.

“And I join all New Yorkers today in expressing my gratitude and pride for the ever-vigilant work of our NYPD women and men  — who remain on-guard around-the-clock and every day to protect the peace and ensure no violence can ever come to the city and its people,” the commissioner added.