Massachusetts Man Accused of White Supremacist Plot to Blow up Jewish Nursing Home

A Massachusetts man has been arrested in connection with an attempted arson attack on a Jewish-sponsored nursing home which had been discussed by white supremacists online. John Rathbun, 36, of East Longmeadow has been charged with two counts of attempted arson.

Police found a five-gallon plastic canister filled with gasoline near the entrance to Ruth's House, a Jewish-sponsored care home for seniors of all faiths, on April 2. The canister was placed around 50 yards away from the facility and close to a busy walkway.

Police also found burnt paper, which was later identified as a Christian religious pamphlet, placed in the nozzle of the canister in what was believed to have been an attempt to ignite it. Blood stains were also found on the canister handle and on the pamphlet, which testing later linked to Rathbun's DNA profile.

The Ruth's House center is located within one square mile of several other Jewish facilities, including three Jewish temples, a Jewish private school and a Jewish Community Center.

On March 20, police had identified a white supremacist organization that operated on two social media platforms who were plotting mass murders. On these platforms, the group discussed using various incendiary devices such as Molotov cocktails to target mosques and synagogues.

On March 4, one user suggested "that jew nursing home in longmeadow massachusetts" as a potential target.

The organization had a calendar on the second platform which included the dates, times, and locations of potential attacks.

On April 2, the calendar had "hating n****** day" listed as an event and "jew killing day" on April 3. The calendar entry for "jew killing day" listed the location as "Jew Nursery Home" without specifying an address.

Prosecutors believe the person who identified the Jewish nursing home in Longmeadow and the user who created the April 3 calendar entry are the same individual.

"In times of national crisis, hatred based on religion often blossoms into violence," said United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling. "The charges in this case allege that the defendant tried to blow up a Jewish assisted living residence with a five gallon gas canister, at the same time that the facility was being discussed on white supremacist online platforms.

We will find, investigate and aggressively prosecute anyone engaged in this kind of mayhem. I also extend my thanks to the Longmeadow Police Department for its help with this investigation."

Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston Division added: "This case highlights the very real threat posed by racially motivated violent extremists and make no mistake, the FBI will use every investigative tool available, along with the expertise and skills of our partners on our Joint Terrorism Task Forces, to identify, assess and disrupt threats like this one to keep our communities safe."

Rathbun is due to appear via video conference before Magistrate Judge Katherine Robertson to face the charges.

John Rathbun has been charged in connection with attempted arson at a Longmeadow assisted living residential facility. Google Maps