Michigan man accused of antisemitic Twitter threats was subject of Discovery Channel documentary

David Lenio is an active Twitter user who has used the social media platform to express countless antisemitic threats, threatening to kill children in mass shootings.

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March 9, 2017 07:46
2 minute read.
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What appears to be a swastika spray-painted on a wall of the University of Chile in downtown Santiago [File]. (photo credit: REUTERS)

On February 24, 2017, local police in Grands Rapids, Michigan, arrested 29-year-old David Lenio on suspicion that he planned to attack Jews living in his community after Lenio tweeted threats of mass shootings and other threats relating to Jews, Fox 17 has reported.

Fox 17 has also revealed that a year earlier, Lenio was the subject of a 2016 Discovery Channel documentary film titled 'Hate in America- A Town on Fire,' which explored the rise of white nationalism in the US.

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The film featured Lenio's court proceedings, in which he faced felony charges due to his tweets, as well as interviews with the man who had helped alert the FBI and police to Lenio'ss intentions.

"On Valentine's Day 2015, I was tweeting about shootings that had just happened at free speech events in Copenhagen, Denmark. One person who'd I'd never heard of started tweeting back a bunch of antisemitic rants," Jon Hutson, a Maryland-based anti-gun advocate told the Discovery Channel.

Hutson remains the only witness- aside from police officers and the suspect's father- who is named in the felony complaint related to Lenio's recent arrest.

According to Fox 17, this is not Lenio's first arrest. Two years earlier, Lenio was arrested and accused of threatening on social media to shoot rabbis as well as declaring his wish to kill school children, saying he wanted to kill more children than those who perished in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary attack.

At the time, Lenio was released into his family's custody on condition that he cease social media activity and not have any access to weapons or to witnesses who are related to his original charges.

In the Discovery Channel documentary from 2016, police say that the suspect's father told them that he believed his son suffered from mental illness.

Fox 17 quote a police investigator dealing with Lenio's case, Sgt. Terry Dixon of the Grand Rapids Police Department, as saying that "Mr.Lenio had been tweeting threatening statements to a victim in a prior case."

The official new charges against Lenio are that he used social media to "terrorize, frighten, intimidate and harass" Hutson as well as others. Investigators have confirmed that Lenio is known to have ties to white nationalist groups. He is currently being held on a 500,000 USD bond, with his next court appearance due on March 14.

His recent arrest, which came shortly before the arrest of Juan Thompson, the man suspected of calling in multiple threats on JCCs across the US and also using Twitter as a launchpad for antisemitic threats, mark security forces' growing effort to put a halt to the uptick in antisemitic violence that has been on the rise in recent months.


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