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Man arrested for allegedly threatening to shoot up yeshiva children’s camp over lack of social distancing

A Long Island, New York, man was arrested for allegedly threatening to shoot up a children’s yeshiva camp over what he viewed as a lack of social distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic, authorities
told WNBC-TV.

What are the details?

Nicola Pelle — 58-year-old Inwood resident — called police Monday evening saying there were “500 kids in the yard playing and not social distancing” at the Yeshiva Ketana of Long Island children’s camp, the station said, adding that he said no one was wearing a mask.

imageImage source: WNBC-TV video screenshot

But while cops were en route, Pelle called again because he didn’t feel they were responding fast enough and threatened to shoot those at the camp if authorities didn’t arrive promptly, Nassau County officials noted to WNBC.

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“If I gotta go out there with a freaking machine gun and shoot all these people, I will,” Pelle said, according to Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder, the station reported.

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He was arrested without incident. Cops later found him in possession of a valid Nassau County pistol permit, five handguns and rifles and shotguns, including two assault weapons. Fourteen weapons were found in all, and were seized as evidence, cops said. One of the guns found, a bushmaster rifle, is illegal to own in New York.

Pelle was charged with making a terroristic threat, four counts of criminal possession of a weapon and criminal possession of a firearm. He was arraigned in Mineola court later Tuesday and was released on bond. It wasn’t clear if he had retained an attorney, and Pelle did not speak with reporters at his home.

Hours after he posted bond, EMTs were seen at his home, but it was not known why.

imageImage source: WNBC-TV video screenshot

What did the rabbi who runs the yeshiva have to say?

Rabbi Ari Ginian, who runs the yeshiva, told the station that Pelle’s alleged behavior was “very uncharacteristic” and that he’s lived next door to the camp for many years.

“He may have been frustrated by some of the situation we are under,” Ginian added to WNBC. “There is duress right now on everyone’s part. We feel for him that he brought himself to that point, and we hope that he takes back what he said.”

imageImage source: WNBC-TV video screenshot

Neighbors told the station the allegations are unusual for Pelle, who they described as a “very nice guy.” They also told WNBC that he’s not in good health and may have been stressed.

“He definitely wasn’t himself, he didn’t look right,” neighbor Anthony Rivelli noted to the station, adding that when Pelle was speaking to him he “just wasn’t making sense. I knew something was wrong, so I think we got a little overreaction here.”

Pelle is scheduled to appear in court in October, WNBC reported.

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