SCRANTON, Pa. – A Pennsylvania man created a digital image of himself pointing an AR-15 rifle at a group of praying Jewish men and posted it online, one of several cyber threats he made against Jewish, Muslim and black people, prosecutors said Thursday in announcing a criminal charge.
Corbin Kauffman, 30, used aliases to post hundreds of racist, anti-Semitic and Islamophobic messages, images and videos, several of which contained threats, prosecutors said. Kauffman "expressed a desire to commit genocide and 'hate crimes,' and called for or depicted images of the killing of Jewish people, black people and Muslim people," the U.S. attorney's office in Scranton said in a news release.
The Lehighton man was charged April 1 with interstate transmission of threats, a federal crime that carries a maximum of five years in prison. Kauffman's lawyer, Christopher Opiel, declined to comment Thursday.
Kauffman was released from custody pending the outcome of his case on condition that he stay off the internet.
An arrest warrant said that on March 7, Kauffman, posting under the username "KingShekels," sent an image of a notebook page with a swastika, dripping blood and the words, "MURDER YOUR LOCAL JUDEN." It was signed "CK Shekel."
Kauffman also sprayed anti-Semitic graffiti at a park; plastered a display case at Chabad Jewish Center in Ocean City, Maryland, with white supremacist and anti-Semitic stickers; and posted photos of the vandalism, according to prosecutors.
Last fall, a gunman with an AR-15 rifle and other weapons opened fire at Pittsburgh's Tree of Life Synagogue, killing 11 worshippers. Authorities in that case say Robert Bowers expressed hatred of Jews. Bowers, 46, has pleaded not guilty.
"Pennsylvanians know all too well how dangerous these kinds of white supremacist threats can be," U.S. Attorney David Freed said in a statement that referenced the synagogue massacre, as well as hate-inspired mass shootings at a New Zealand mosque and a black church in South Carolina. "We don't know what might have happened, but we take these threats seriously."
Michael Harpster of the Philadelphia FBI said that while the agency "does not and will not police ideology, we stand ready to intervene whenever threatening language crosses the line into illegal activity."