A Connecticut man was arrested over a frightening social media post that threatened gun violence at the New Haven Puerto Rican Festival, police said.
Jeffrey Hanson, 53, of Orange, was busted late Friday after posting on Facebook that “there should be 30-round magazines as a result of the festival,” New Haven Police Chief Otoniel Reyes told reporters Saturday at a news conference, the Hartford Courant reported.
“Obviously, this caused a lot of pain,” Reyes said. “It caused a lot of concern and a lot of fear throughout the public, especially the Puerto Rican community.”
While not a credible threat, Reyes said the post led to extra police patrol at the fourth-annual event, which took place Saturday on New Haven Green without incident, WTIC reported. Hanson used the screen name “Jake Wilson” to make the implied threat toward festivalgoers on Facebook, sources told the station.
“It certainly makes us feel a little bit more demoralized to see that there are people that have such hate in their heart, but that’s why we do what we do and what we do every day is try to bring unity in a world that sometimes tries to be divisive,” Reyes said.
No weapons were recovered from Hanson, who was not known to police, investigators said. But Reyes added that the threat became a “high priority” in the wake of the mass shooting that killed 22 people in El Paso, Texas, where gunman Patrick Crusius, 21, confessed to cops that he was targeting Mexicans at a Walmart when he surrendered on Aug. 3.
“And especially with the climate today around the country where hateful rhetoric has led to violence, we wanted to make sure that our public here in New Haven and the national public knew that this was not something we were going to take lightly,” Reyes said.
Hanson, who was released after posting $50,000 bond, is scheduled to be arraigned Monday in New Haven on a second-degree breach of peace charge. He could also face federal charges, the Hartford Courant reported. Attempts to reach him early Monday were unsuccessful.
New Haven Mayor Toni Harp, meanwhile, thanked police in a statement for a “quick response” to the threat ahead of the festival and said authorities would work to “defend equally” the rights of all Americans, according to the Connecticut Post.
Justin Alamo, 18, of New Haven, told the newspaper he was glad that the festival went on as planned but said he was repulsed when he initially found out about Hanson’s alleged threat.
“Especially with everything going on, especially with last Saturday, I can say I felt disgusted,” Alamo told the newspaper.
More than 10,000 people attended Saturday’s event, WTNH reported.