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US man charged for plotting mass shooting at Ohio synagogue

Investigators say Damon Joseph, 21, was inspired by both Islamic State and white-nationalist Pittsburgh synagogue shooter Robert Gregory Bowers

Damon Joseph, center, accompanied by a federal agent, right, during his arrest on December 10, 2018, for plotting to carry out a mass shooting attack at an Ohio synagogue. (Screen capture WTAE-TV)
Damon Joseph, center, accompanied by a federal agent, right, during his arrest on December 10, 2018, for plotting to carry out a mass shooting attack at an Ohio synagogue. (Screen capture WTAE-TV)

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — A man accused of plotting a mass shooting at an Ohio synagogue in the weeks following a deadly attack at a Pittsburgh synagogue has been indicted on a federal hate crime charge.

While the plan was never carried out and investigators said there wasn’t an immediate threat to the public, the Department of Justice said the suspect spent months talking about and planning for a violent attack.

Investigators say Damon Joseph, 21, of the Toledo suburb of Holland, said he wanted to kill as many people as possible, including a rabbi, and make sure no one escaped.

A federal grand jury on Tuesday indicted Joseph on charges that include attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State jihadist group and attempting to commit a hate crime. His attorney declined to comment.

Joseph was arrested in early December after he received two AR-15 rifles from an undercover agent, according to court documents.

Damon Joseph, 21, of Holland, Ohio, was charged on January 28, 2019 by US federal prosecutors with plotting a deadly shooting attack at a synagogue in Ohio. (US Department of Justice photo)

He had been under investigation for months and talked about his plans with an undercover FBI agent, according to the Justice Department.

Joseph posted photos of weapons, praised Islamic State and settled on targeting a synagogue in the Toledo area, said Justin Herdman, the US attorney for northern Ohio.

His plans for a synagogue shooting came together after a white-nationalist gunman, Robert Gregory Bowers, killed 11 people in a Pittsburgh synagogue in October, Herdman said. Authorities said he told an undercover agent: “I admire what the guy did with the shooting actually.”

Joseph said his decision about which synagogue to attack would come down to “which one will have the most people, what time and what day. Go big or go home,” according to court documents.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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