A Massachusetts man has been indicted by a federal grand jury in connection with an attempted arson at a Jewish-sponsored assisted living community in April.
John Michael Rathbun, 36, was indicted on one count of attempting to transport or receive explosive devices in interstate or foreign commerce with the intent to kill, injure or intimidate an individual or damage a building or vehicle, and one count of attempting to maliciously damage or destroy, by means of fire or an explosive, any building, vehicle or property.
April 2, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office District of Massachusetts, police found a homemade explosive device next to the driveway entrance to Ruth’s House, a Jewish-sponsored assisted living community in Longmeadow, MA. Nearby are three Jewish temples, a Jewish private school and a Jewish community center. Rathbun is accused of trying to blow up the assisted living residence with a five-gallon gas canister “at the same time that the facility was being discussed on white supremacist online platforms,” U.S. Attorney Andrew E. Lelling had previously stated.
In March, a white supremacist organization allegedly used social media to promote mass killings directed against religious, racial and ethinic minorities using various explosive and incendiary devices, including “molotov cocktails.” Among the identified targets were mosques and synagogues, according to the Justice Department.
Rathbun is facing up to 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine on each charge. April 23, a virtual Longmeadow Community Solidarity Gathering was held in support of the Longmeadow community.
“This case highlights the very real threat posed by racially motivated violent extremists, and make no mistake, the FBI will use every investigative tool available, along with the expertise and skills of our partners on our Joint Terrorism Task Forces, to identify, assess and disrupt threats like this one to keep our communities safe,” Joseph R. Bonavolonta, special agent in charge of the FBI Boston Division, previously stated.
The investigation was led by the FBI’s Western Massachusetts Joint Terrorism Task Force with assistance from the Longmeadow and East Longmeadow Police Departments, and the Massachusetts State Police.
Trial soon for Ohio man charged with threatening Jewish campus
Meanwhile, the trial of an Ohio man charged with an incident involving the Jewish Community Center of Youngstown, which is part of a campus that includes assisted living and skilled nursing facilities, is slated to begin June 29.
In August, federal authorities had announced a charge against James Reardon of New Middletown, OH, whom they say posted a video on Instagram referring to himself as a white nationalist and appearing to threaten the community center.
Reardon was charged in U.S. District Court with one count of transiting threatening communications via interstate commerce. He also faces local charges of telecommunications harassment and aggravated menacing, to which he pleaded not guilty.
Missouri man on death row for shooting at senior living community
The cases of Rathbun and Reardon follow a case in which a Missouri man in 2015 was convicted of capital murder and was sentenced to death by lethal injection for killing three people in 2014, including one outside Village Shalom, a senior living community, in Overland Park, KS.
Frazier Glenn Cross, 74, also known as Frazier Glenn Miller, was convicted on one count of capital murder, three counts of attempted murder, and assault and weapons charges for the April 2014 shootings. He killed a 14-year-old boy and his grandfather in the parking lot of the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City in Overland Park, and a 53-year-old woman in the parking lot of the nearby Village Shalom retirement community — she was the daughter of a resident.
In June 2019, attorneys for Cross and other men on death row argued that a recent abortion-related Kansas Supreme Court ruling meant that the convicted killers could be executed because capital punishment violates their “inalienable” right to life, the Associated Press reported.