Former congregant arrested after threatening to shoot up Chabad in Fort Myers

Rabbi confirms that suspect was a regular at Chabad center in Fort Myers, Florida before his arrest over threats against the synagogue.

Tal Polon ,

Shooting attack
Shooting attack

A man was arrested last week after allegedly threatening to carry out a shooting attack on a Chabad center in Fort Myers, Florida.

At a press conference on Thursday, Sheriff Carmine Marceno identified the suspect as Alfredo Sanchez - whom the sheriff said was a congregant at the synagogue.

"On Tuesday, February 18, the Lee County Sheriff's Office received information regarding a threat made against a synagogue in Fort Myers. That information expressed concerns involving a member of the Temple," Marceno said.

“Sanchez made at least one statement indicating that he had the ability and the means to carry out a shooting at the synagogue,” the sheriff noted. “It was also reported that Sanchez offered to sell a firearm to a synagogue member.”

According to the sheriff, Sanchez had previously been convicted of felony in Miami-Dade County, and sentenced to prison for firearms.

"Detectives interviewed multiple witnesses and ultimately established probable cause for a search warrant for Sanchez's home," where they discovered a large amount of ammo, gun cases, gun cleaning accessories, but no firearms.

Investigators later discovered a duffel bag containing 4 firearms, including an AK-47 rifle, that Sanchez had dropped off at a nearby relative's house a short while before, the sheriff said.

Chabad website COLlive reported on Friday that the suspect and his family had been "regulars" at the synagogue for about a year.

“He comes to the synagogue, prays, he studies, he volunteers, he helps out,” Rabbi Yitzchok Minkowicz, who heads the center, confirmed to COLlive.

“So, yes, absolutely it was a surprise - we had no inkling of any of this stuff.”

Sanchez faces charges of Possession of a Firearm and Ammunition by a Convicted Felon.