Audrey Strauss, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, William F. Sweeney Jr., the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), and Dermot Shea, the Commissioner of the New York City Police Department (“NYPD”), announced Wednesday the unsealing of a criminal Complaint charging MALIK SANCHEZ, a/k/a “Smooth Sanchez,” with making a hoax threat to detonate a bomb at a restaurant in the Flatiron neighborhood in New York, New York, on or about February 13, 2021. SANCHEZ was arrested today in Manhattan, and he will be presented this afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge Ona T. Wang.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said: “As alleged, Malik Sanchez perpetrated a hoax bomb threat at a Manhattan restaurant that frightened innocent victims, sowed chaos, and diverted precious law enforcement resources. Today’s arrest makes clear that such conduct will not be tolerated.”
FBI Assistant Director William F. Sweeney Jr. said: “Whether real or perceived, a threat of violence is a serious action with real-life consequences. In this case, Sanchez’s alleged behavior carries the potential for a federal prison sentence. Anyone who intends to carry out a similar hoax should know that the FBI’s JTTF is ready and willing to respond.”
NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said: “Malik Sanchez’s alleged hoax bomb threat, as detailed in today’s federal complaint, disrupted not only the safety and well-being of several innocent restaurant patrons but the fabric of society. Our NYPD detectives, with our partners in the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force and the United States Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York, have zero tolerance for actions like these.”
As alleged in the Complaint unsealed in Manhattan federal court:
SANCHEZ self-identifies as an “Involuntary Celibate” or “Incel,” which refers to a primarily online group of individuals, mostly men, who believe that society unjustly denies them sexual or romantic attention to which they are entitled. SANCHEZ has posted multiple videos to social media accounts depicting SANCHEZ harassing, threatening, and in one instance harming individuals whom SANCHEZ encounters in Manhattan, while expressing support for Incel ideology, including for carrying out violence against women in the name of the group.
For example, on or about February 7, 2021, SANCHEZ posted online a video with a caption including “INCEL ARMY RISE UP.” The video depicts SANCHEZ yelling at two women walking on a street in Manhattan that SANCHEZ has “Incel rage”; that he supports Incel’s unofficial founder, Elliot Rodger, who attacked a sorority house and pedestrians in California in 2014, killing six victims and injuring 14 others; and that Rodger’s victims “deserved to be run over and hit by a truck. They deserved to be slaughtered.” On or about March 20, 2021, SANCHEZ posted another video filmed in Manhattan, which depicts SANCHEZ approaching multiple women at an outdoor seating area. In the video, SANCHEZ again proclaimed his support for Incels and Elliot Rodger, while making hand gestures mimicking pointing a gun. After multiple individuals attempted to get SANCHEZ to stop, SANCHEZ sprayed pepper spray in the face of one of those individuals. SANCHEZ was arrested by responding NYPD officers and charged with state offenses, and was thereafter released on bail.
On or about February 13, 2021, SANCHEZ posted a video that depicts him perpetrating a hoax bomb threat at a restaurant in Manhattan’s Flatiron neighborhood. The video shows SANCHEZ approaching an outdoor seating area in front of the restaurant and stating: “Let’s enhance their meal.” SANCHEZ then positioned himself close to two women seated at one of the tables, and conveyed that he was about to detonate a bomb. SANCHEZ loudly stated: “Allahu Akbar. Allahu Akbar. Bomb detonation in two, in two minutes. I take you with me and I kill all you. I kill all you right now. And I kill all you for Allah. . . . I’m gonna do it. I’m gonna fucking do it for Allah. I’m gonna do it, for, Allah, Allah, Allahu Akbar, Come on. I do it, bomb now, bomb now.” The two women appeared startled, gathered their belongings, and went into the restaurant; approximately four other individuals in the seating area grabbed their belongings and ran away. SANCHEZ then stated: “Yo, all of them scattered” and “Holy shit boys. That was fucking five stars. That was five stars.” At least one individual called 911 in connection with the bomb threat, and law enforcement responded to the scene. By that point, SANCHEZ had left the area.
SANCHEZ, 19, of New York, New York, is charged with one count of conveying false and misleading information and hoaxes, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1038, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison. The maximum potential penalty is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant would be determined by a judge.