How Discord helped FBI thwart 13-year-old's synagogue mass shooting plot

Discord "detected, removed and reported the user," which led to an arrest.

ByBrian Hartman, Danielle Jennings, and Quinn Owen ABCNews logo
Thursday, December 14, 2023
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A 13-year-old boy from Ohio has been charged in connection with a plot to commit a mass shooting at a synagogue in September after he allegedly made detailed threats on Discord, a messaging platform popular among gamers, according to court documents.

The individual, who is only identified by the initials J.R. in a criminal complaint due to his age, has been charged in Stark County juvenile court with inducing panic and disorderly conduct, according to charging documents.

The teen was reported by Discord to law enforcement in early September after he created "a detailed plan to complete a mass shooting at the Temple Israel" in Canton, according to the documents. The report initiated the investigation that led to the suspect's arrest, according to police and the company.

FILE - A display Discord stands at the company
FILE - A display Discord stands at the company's booth at the Game Developers Conference 2023 in San Francisco, March 22, 2023.
(AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

"Discord's Counter-Extremism analysts proactively detected, removed, and reported this user to the FBI's National Threat Operations Center, which is what led to the user's arrest. We have a zero-tolerance policy against hate and violent extremism, and when we see it, we take immediate action. It is a top priority for Discord to ensure a safe experience for our users," John Redgrave, Discord's vice president of trust & safety, said in a statement to ABC News.

The suspect's school system was also notified of the plan, according to the court documents.

The teen has not yet entered a plea. The suspect's lawyer listed on court documents did not immediately respond to a request for comment from ABC News on Thursday.

A spokesperson for the Stark County, Ohio, Prosecutor's Office confirmed to ABC News a minor was arrested in September.

A 13-year-old is accused of planning to commit a shooting at Temple Israel in Canton, Ohio, in September.
A 13-year-old is accused of planning to commit a shooting at Temple Israel in Canton, Ohio, in September.
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"I can confirm a 13-year-old was charged with inducing panic and disorderly conduct for involvement in threats made during an online discussion," spokesperson Christian A. Turner said. "Pending an open investigation we are unable to provide any further information at this time."

The incident happened weeks before the start of the Israel-Hamas war, which has sparked an increase in hate crimes against both Jews and Muslims in the U.S.

Weeks before the start of the Israel-Hamas war, which sparked increasing incidents of antisemitism, online platform Discord tipped off the FBI that a teenager in one of its online spaces had discussed shooting up a Jewish temple in Ohio.

Rabbi David Komerofsky of Temple Israel told ABC News he would not confirm or comment on the case because it involved a minor.

The teen is scheduled to appear in court again on Dec. 20.

ABC News' Mark Osborne and Jeremy Edwards contributed to this report.