Rabbi hopes man accused of threatening Concord temple ‘gets the treatment he needs’

Monitor staff
Published: 12/6/2018 3:35:21 PM

Rabbi Robin Nafshi said she feels sorry for the man accused of sending emails to the CIA threatening Concord’s Jewish community.

The leader of Temple Beth Jacob said family members of Brian Roberts have reached out to her expressing compassion for her congregation and remorse for what happened. Roberts, 38, who is homeless, told officers that he suffers from schizophrenia and has been unable to access medication.

“Our hope is that he gets the mental health treatment that he needs,” Nafshi said. “I think much of our community feels that way.”

Roberts is accused of sending emails Nov. 30 to the CIA making threats such as “Going to shoot Gov state of NH no matter what” and “I’d kill every Jew I ever..look at.” He was arrested at Concord’s Friendly Kitchen and charged with criminal threatening Monday.

Since then, he has been held at the Merrimack County Department of Corrections. Roberts had previously been questioned by the FBI in Seattle over similar emails to government branches, according to court records. Roberts said that he had been visiting many government sites, including the CIA’s, frequently for two years, and that he often sends messages through “contact us” links in order to “ask for help.”

Roberts said he hears voices, and believes the government is monitoring him through GPS tracking devices. Roberts said he has no memory of sending the specific messages threatening the governor and Jewish community.

On Thursday, the court ordered that he receive a mental health evaluation. He may be transported to the state hospital if needed, attorneys said. He will be brought to Concord’s district court Tuesday at 8:15 a.m. for a hearing.

Nafshi, who was at the district court Thursday with her partner and Temple Beth Jacob’s cantor, Shira Nafshi, said she felt it was necessary for her to be there to advocate for her community.

“Our congregation looks to us to represent them and to offer a voice,” she said. “We want to provide everything we can to assure our congregants that the state is doing what it can to keep us safe.”

She said that even though she feels relieved knowing that someone has been arrested for the threats, she is very aware of other hate groups and anti-Semitic white supremacist groups in New Hampshire.

“While this may be an individual with severe mental illness, we don’t know who is inspired by him, encouraged by him, emboldened by him,” she said.

Shira Nafshi said the temple is in the process of reviewing its security procedures to see how they can be updated and improved. The threats to Concord’s Jewish community came about a month after 11 people were killed during a shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue.

“This latest in a string of threats has continued to push our community to make necessary security changes and take a really hard, deep look at what we can do to remain a welcoming community while at the same time, still enduring the safety of our members,” she said.

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