Holding Antisemites Accountable.

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Florida Man Arrested for Threatening to ‘Shoot Up’ Synagogue and Murder Jewish Woman

A Pinellas County man is in jail Wednesday after investigators say he threatened a woman and the local synagogue she works at.

Damion Lawson, 55, is being held on a $50,000 bond and is charged with threatening communication or threats of mass shooting.  Police say a woman came forward with threatening text messages from Lawson sent at the end of last month.

“In that text message it was conveyed to the victim there was a threat, potentially at their place of work, which is a synagogue in St. Petersburg,” Pinellas Park Police Department Seargent Alex Matson said.

An affidavit obtained by 10 Tampa Bay shows Lawson allegedly writing “I will see you dead before you **** with me again” in the alleged text messages. Another text made a reference to “the nazi with a gun coming to the Jewish campus.”

“You make threats like this, then we’re going to take your word on those threats and you’ll go to jail,” Matson added, who also said the information he can provide is limited as it is too early to do so.

“We took the appropriate action in this investigation by arresting that individual; we did potentially stop an event from occurring,” Matson added. 

The troubling statistics are a harrowing reminder for members of the local Jewish community, like the Florida Holocaust Museum CEO Michael Igel.

“I think it’s easy to get discouraged, frustrated, scared, but we really have to overshadow that with brightness and see these as opportunities for us to take action,” Igel said.

That action he says, includes education, which is a paramount part of what FHM staff does to combat antisemitism in our state and beyond. 

“[Anti-Semitic tropes] are baked into our society, they’ve been here for thousands of years. And education is the key weapon to take action against it,” Igel added.

Lawson has entered a not guilty plea and will be back in court later this month.