A Long Island man has been arrested for allegedly threatening to shoot people at a local children's camp over a social distancing complaint, authorities say.
The suspect, 58-year-old Nicola Pelle of Inwood, called cops Monday evening to report a violation at the Yeshiva Ketana of Long Island children’s camp. He supposedly told cops that there were "500 kids in the yard playing and not social distancing," and said no one was wearing a mask.
While police were en route, Pelle called again because he didn't feel they were responding fast enough. During the second call, he threatened to get a gun and shoot those at the camp if cops didn't arrive soon, Nassau County officials allege.
"If I gotta go out there with a freaking machine gun and shoot all these people, I will," Pelle said, according to Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder.
He was arrested without incident. Cops later found him in possession of a valid Nassau County pistol permit, five handguns and rifles and shotguns, including two assault weapons. Fourteen weapons were found in all, and were seized as evidence, cops said. One of the guns found, a bushmaster rifle, is illegal to own in New York.
Pelle was charged with making a terroristic threat, four counts of criminal possession of a weapon and criminal possession of a firearm. He was arraigned in Mineola court later Tuesday and was released on bond. It wasn't clear if he had retained an attorney, and Pelle did not speak with reporters at his home.
Hours after he posted bond, EMTs were seen at his home, but it was not known why.
The rabbi who runs the yeshiva described Pelle's alleged behavior as "very uncharacteristic," adding he's lived next door to the camp for many years.
"He may have been frustrated by some of the situation we are under. There is duress right now on everyone's part. We feel for him that he brought himself to that point, and we hope that he takes back what he said," said Rabbi Ari Ginian.
Neighbors also told News 4 the allegations are unusual for Pelle, who they also described to be a "very nice guy." They also said he is not in good health, and may have been stressed.
"He definitely wasn't himself, he didn't look right," said neighbor Anthony Rivelli. "He was groveling when he was talking to me, he just wasn't making sense. I knew something was wrong, so I think we got a little overreaction here."
Pelle's next scheduled to appear in court in October.