CONTACT: Barbara Burns
PHONE: (716) 843-5817
FAX #: (716) 551-3051
BUFFALO, N.Y. – U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that Samuel Mara, 24, of Buffalo, NY, was arrested and charged by criminal complaint with posting a video on Facebook threatening to injure or kill another person. The charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Joshua A. Violanti, who is handling the case, stated that according to the complaint, on June 6, 2020, the FBI and New York State Police began investigating a two (2) hour and ten (10) minute live stream video posted on Facebook Live. The video, apparently taken in front of the Buffalo Police Department — C District Station, was live streamed by an individual identified as A.M., a close associate of Samuel Mara. In the video, a crowd is peacefully protesting, and at times, A.M. is heard commenting in the video. Defendant Mara is also seen sporadically throughout the video. Approximately 45 minutes into the video, several members of the crowd begin shouting, “hey hey, ho ho, [Victim 1] has got to go.”
Facebook users watching the live stream video posted comments, including information about a purported KKK rally which was allegedly scheduled to take place in downtown Buffalo on the following day. A.M. and defendant Mara are then heard discussing the rally. Mara can be heard saying: “Listen…what they’re gonna do is, they’re gonna drive themselves crazy outta’ all the overwhelming fear and one of them is (inaudible) gonna hurt us or kill us and that’s gonna start (inaudible) and then we gonna do whatever the (expletive) we want. It will happen, we are in power. They are scared. They will act off impulse and they will try to kill us, when they do that. Then they will all die. We will kill them all. I will personally kill [Victim 1].”
According to investigators, the defendant made multiple threatening posts on social media accounts he controlled, including:
• On June 16, 2020, Mara posted on Facebook: “Hey slave (redacted social media name known to law enforcement).. I’ll be at the Niagara Square today around 2-3 for a few hrs, if you or [Victim 1] the ROBOT wanna talk to me MAN to MAN then come see ME, we can do it without cameras as well idc.”
• On June 18, 2020, Mara posted a photo on Instagram of an apparent redish-brown handprint on the McKinley Monument in Niagara Square. The text below the photo read, “samplicitybrand MY blood (syringe icon) MY kingdom (crown icon).” Mara tagged the social media accounts of [Victim 1], the Buffalo Police Department, the Governor of New York State, and A.B., a Buffalo Police Officer.
• Also on June 18, 2020, Mara posted a video on Instagram of himself sitting on the McKinley monument. The text across the video read, “Come take me off MY throne.. I dare you.” During the video, Mara shows a large redish-brown stain between his feet and says, “That’s my blood.” The defendant then shows a redish-brown handprint on the monument and states, “That’s my (expletive) hand.” Mara then returns the camera to show his face and states, “Do something about it, take me down. Come here right now, take me down, and come take me off this (expletive).”
• In a June 24, 2020, post on Twitter, which included a screenshot from the social media account of [Victim 1], Mara listed the phone number for the Buffalo Employment Training Center. The text above the photograph read, “I will haunt you for the rest of your life; I already know I am in your soul. Now I will get deeper and deeper. My anger is inexplainable and you will FEEL it.”
• Mara posted a second Tweet on June 24, 2020, which read, “You really got me angry now bra.. you made the WORST decision you could’ve possible made, y’all NEVER try this shit when I’m here.” In that post, the defendant tagged the social media accounts of [Victim 1], the Buffalo Police Officer A.B., and the Buffalo Police Department.
• On June 25, 2020, Mara posted a 37 second video on Instagram showing several individuals from the middle of the street. Police officers are seen facing the crowd as [Victim 1] is walking down the street to a parked car. The defendant is seen with a backpack on walking towards [Victim 1], getting within a several feet of [Victim 1]. A police officer is then seen preventing Mara from approaching and getting any closer. The text below the video read, “samplicitybrand IS THIS YOUR KING???” The Buffalo Police Department was tagged in the post.
• On July 3, 2020, Mara posted four photos of [Victim 1] on Twitter. One photograph showed [Victim 1] wearing a suit and shaking hands with an individual. Another photograph, apparently from a different event, shows [Victim 1] wearing a t-shirt and baseball hat hugging an individual. The text above the photographs read, “Lol really? I know that YOU know MOST ppl won’t see this and see the DIRECT hidden message you’re sending to racists… you really holding a blue lives matter flag man I’m showing you ZER0 mercy when the time comes.. you continue to make me angry.” Victim 1 was tagged in the post.
• The following day, on July 4, 2020, Mara posted a 28 second video on Instagram taken from the sidewalk filming up the driveway of Victim 1’s residence. The defendant commented, “gotta be quicker than thaaat (first name of [Victim 1]).” Mara can also be heard shouting, “yo (first name of [Victim 1]). Can we talk?” At that time, Mara points the camera up the driveway and zooms in on Victim 1 who can be seen standing in the driveway carrying a recycling bin.
• On July 5, 2020, the defendant posted on Snapchat a text which read, “Your son’s soul is next.. warn him.” Another post appears to be a screen capture from a Facebook Messenger direct message conversation between Mara and Victim 1’s son. The text reads:
Sammy Jay: I want your soul
Sammy Jay: Give it to me or I’ll take it from you, thru your eyes.
Sammy Jay: A screenshot of Mara’s feet from the McKinley Monument with the redish-brown stain on June 18, 2020.
Sammy Jay: That’s my hand.. come do something about it since your father isn’t man enough.
On July 15, 2020, Mara posted a 17 minute video on Facebook showing the driveway of his residence. Text for the video read, “COPS HERE!!!!!!” Buffalo Police Officers are seen standing in the driveway of the residence, along with members of Erie County Crisis Services who are attempting to speak with Mara. The defendant is agitated and can be heard accosting the individuals. At one point in the video, Mara is walking towards one of the police officers and says, “little (expletive) gun too, lucky I don’t take that shit.” The defendant tells the individuals repeatedly that he will not answer to his name, he will only speak to them if they refer to him as, “King Caeser.” Mara was admitted to ECMC where he remained until July 27, 2020. The defendant began uploading new content on social media in the afternoon of July 27, 2020.
On July 18, 2020, the office of Victim 1 was notified by ECMC of a potential threat against his or her person.
On July 29, 2020, Mara posted on Instagram: “No Mercy Buffalo Police Department [Victim 1].” The text was linked directly to the Buffalo Police Department’s official Facebook page and [Victim 1]’s official Facebook page.
“Much as an act of violence is not a Constitutionally protected form of protest, an actual threat of violence is not a Constitutionally protected form of speech,” stated U.S. Attorney Kennedy. “As alleged in the criminal complaint, the defendant’s actions here crossed the line from protected speech to prosecutable conduct.”
The defendant made an initial appearance this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeremiah J. McCarthy and was held pending a detention hearing on August 12, 2020, at 10:30 a.m.
The complaint is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Stephen Belongia; the New York State Police, under the direction of Major James Hall; and the Buffalo Police Department, under the direction of Commissioner Byron Lockwood.
The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation, and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
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