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The 18-year-old man who federal authorities say expressed a desire to attack African-Americans and who is accused of telling people to vandalize Midwest synagogues, serves as a volunteer firefighter in his hometown in South Jersey.
Richard Tobin has been a Brooklawn volunteer firefighter for less than a year, chief John McKinney said Monday. McKinney said he was unaware of the allegations against Tobin until he was contacted by a reporter.
Tobin was originally part of the fire company’s “Fire Service Explorers” program, a Boy Scouts of America program that introduces adolescents to a firefighting career, the chief said. A March 2018 Brooklawn fire company Facebook post congratulated Tobin on completing the Camden County College Fire Academy Junior Firefighter course.
Authorities believe Tobin was directing the “Great Lakes Cell” of the white supremacist group “The Base” from his New Jersey home, the Daily Beast reported.
“If there’s a window that wants to be broken, don’t be shy,” Tobin allegedly told the Neo-Nazis who carried out the attack.
When he was interviewed by federal authorities in October, Tobin told them he was becoming increasingly violent and recalled a time he went to a mall in the Garden State armed with a machete.
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Investigators say Richard Tobin, 18, of Brooklawn, used the neo-Nazi social network The Base to recruit the perpetrators who carried out the September attacks on synagogues in Michigan and Wisconsin.
Though FBI agents have linked Tobin to only those two incidents, he allegedly said he envisioned them as part of a nationwide campaign he had dubbed “Operation Kristallnacht” — a reference to the organized ransacking of Jewish homes, schools, and hospitals by Nazi paramilitaries and civilians in Germany in 1938.
Court documents say Tobin also confessed to obsessively plotting more violent action and, in one case, got as far as sitting in the parking lot of the Menlo Park Mall in Middlesex County with a machete willing himself to “let loose” on black shoppers.