Cornell University student arrested, charged for threatening to kill Jewish students

Students walk on the campus of Cornell University in Ithica, New York, as seen in a campus tour video posted online in May 2022.
Students walk on the campus of Cornell University in Ithica, New York, as seen in a campus tour video posted online in May 2022. | YouTube/Cornell University

A student at Cornell University in New York has been arrested after making online death threats toward Jewish members of the academic community and faces up to five years in prison.

Patrick Dai, 21, a junior from Pittsford, New York, was arrested on Tuesday and accused of posting death threats in the Cornell section of an online discussion website.

According to a statement from the U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of New York, Dai's posts called for the deaths of Jews. He also said he was "gonna shoot up 104 west."

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The referenced location, 104 West, is a university dining hall situated next to the Cornell Jewish Center that largely caters to Kosher diets.

Authorities allege that Dai posted that he was going to "stab" and "slit the throat" of any Jewish men he saw on campus, rape and murder any Jewish women and behead Jewish babies. Dai also allegedly threatened to "bring an assault rifle to campus and shoot all you pig jews."

If found guilty, Dai faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison, a fine of as much as $250,000 and also a term of supervised release of as much as three years.

In response to news of the social media posts before Dai's arrest, Cornell released a statement Sunday denouncing the "horrendous, antisemitic messages threatening violence to our Jewish community."

"At this time, Cornell Police (CUPD) are on the scene and investigating. Police will continue to remain on site to ensure our students and community members are safe. Cornell Police have also notified the FBI of a potential hate crime," stated Cornell President Martha E. Pollack.

"Threats of violence are absolutely intolerable, and we will work to ensure that the person or people who posted them are punished to the full extent of the law. Our immediate focus is on keeping the community safe; we will continue to prioritize that."

Pollack said that the university "will not tolerate antisemitism at Cornell" and that she has "repeatedly denounced bigotry and hatred, both on and off our campus."

"The virulence and destructiveness of antisemitism is real and deeply impacting our Jewish students, faculty and staff, as well as the entire Cornell community. This incident highlights the need to combat the forces that are dividing us and driving us toward hate," she added.

"Regardless of your beliefs, backgrounds or perspectives, I urge all of you to come together with the empathy and support for each other that we so greatly need in this difficult time."

As the war between Israel and Hamas continues, some college campuses in the United States have been accused of fomenting anti-Semitism via pro-Palestinian students and faculty.

Earlier this month at The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, another New York-based college, a pro-Palestinian demonstration attempted to confront several Jewish students locked inside a library, with the protestors pounding on the doors and shouting, "Free Palestine!"

In addition to threats of violence against Jews, there has been at least one highly reported incident of a pro-Palestinian student being confronted by a university official.

Last week, a staff member at Princeton University confronted a group of pro-Palestinian protestors and allegedly grabbed a pro-Palestinian student's phone who was filming her, walking away with the device.

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