UPDATE: Paterson’s first Muslim police chief wasn’t in the job long when he became the target of texted threats from a 28-year-old Clifton man because of what authorities said Monday are his race, religion and nationality.
Stefan Keco was arrested and charged after being identified by Paterson detectives following the threats to Police Chief Ibrahim “Mike” Baycora, Public Safety Director Jerry Speziale Jr. said.
Keco “sent threatening text messages to Chief Baycora with the purpose to intimidate him because of the chief’s religion, race and national origin,” Passaic County Prosecutor Camelia Valdes said Monday.
He remained held Monday at the Passaic County Jail pending a detention hearing Wednesday in Central Judicial Processing Court in Paterson.
This past Friday’s arrest came amid a City Council debate over whether to allow mosques and other places of worship to amplify prayer calls.
Keco “made threats to harm the chief, which caused a disruption to the day to day operations of the police department,” Speziale said. “He also made threats towards City Hall, causing the police department to institute security measures for both facilities.”
The FBI, Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office and other law enforcement agencies assisted in the investigation, which ended with Keco charged with two counts of threats and bias intimidation.
“Our new police chief has a very demanding job and the last thing he needs is his life threatened,” Mayor Andre Sayegh said.
Baycora was sworn to the position on Feb. 4.