Mom of accused Cornell student opens up about son’s mental health, apology in exclusive interview

Hours after threatening antisemitic on-line postings that got here from a Cornell College scholar final week, allegedly, one other posting appeared with a really totally different tone.

”Apologies,” the submit started. “There isn’t a room for divisive statements on individual or on-line. I’m sorry.

“A lesser man would attempt to disguise behind a masks and that’s precisely what I did. Shameful, calling for violence in opposition to individuals due to a merciless struggle a thousand miles away. Much more shameful as a result of there isn’t any excuse for the concentrating on of harmless civilians, a lot much less my classmates.”

Federal prosecutors allege that Patrick Dai, a 21-year-old Cornell scholar from Pittsford, final week threatened in on-line postings to “shoot up” a eating corridor that principally caters to Jewish college students and to “deliver an assault rifle to campus and shoot” all Jewish college students on the college in Ithaca. The postings additionally included different threats of violence in opposition to Jewish college students.

Dai’s mom, Bing Liu, gave an interview at her Pittsford residence on Monday to the Democrat and Chronicle.

She talked about her son’s on-line apology for his threats — threats that she mentioned she thinks had been partly triggered by his use of a drugs to counter severe melancholy and nervousness. The apology posting, she mentioned, was given to her by Dai’s protection legal professionals with the federal public defender’s workplace in Syracuse. They obtained the posting in a package deal of proof given to them after Dai’s court docket look final week, she mentioned.

Lisa Peebles, the federal public defender for the Northern District of New York, declined to remark in regards to the case in opposition to Dai.

She has requested a bail listening to for Dai and it’s now scheduled for Thursday.

The threats at any time can be particularly disturbing however with rising incidents of antisemitism on school campuses and elsewhere, in addition to rising fears of mass shootings, the postings despatched tremors by the Cornell campus. “We stay shocked by and condemn these horrific, antisemitic threats and consider they need to be prosecuted to the complete extent of the regulation,” mentioned Joel Malina, vp for college relations, in a press release final week.

Patrick Dai at highschool commencement.

Liu, 53, didn’t low cost the seriousness of her son’s alleged actions.

And he or she additionally acknowledged that his innocence or guilt has but to be decided. However within the apology she witnessed phrases that she thinks sounded extra like her son, she mentioned. The timeline on the apology exhibits it was posted earlier than his arrest.

Often tearful, Liu mentioned the media has not given a full image of her son.

Her son now “has no future,” she mentioned. Prosecutors and the FBI ought to have shared the apology publicly as a part of the proof in opposition to Dai that final week grew to become nationwide and worldwide information, Liu mentioned.

“Why did not they reveal this essential piece of knowledge?” she mentioned. “Additionally, why did not the college?”

Posting allegedly from Patrick Dai apologizing for threats

Posting allegedly from Patrick Dai apologizing for threats

The posting couldn’t be positioned on-line however might have been eliminated, as had been the threats that federal prosecutors say got here from Dai, a 2020 graduate of Pittsford Mendon Excessive College.

Regardless of the information behind the apology, the preliminary threats couldn’t be discounted or downplayed, some native Jewish leaders say.

“I believed that we had really entered the period the place harassment and hate speech in opposition to Jewish college students publicly was now mainstreamed and that scholar antisemitism was now not one thing that folks hid,” mentioned Monica Gebel, the manager director on the Levine Heart to Finish Hate on the Jewish Federation of Higher Rochester.

“The Israel-Hamas struggle has unleashed such vitriol on-line in opposition to Jews and Muslims each and with such misinformation behind the messaging that the mainstreaming of outright hate was now acceptable,” she mentioned of her fears spurred by the postings.

Federal prosecutors declined to remark in regards to the case in opposition to Dai.

What was Patrick Dai’s psychological well being drawback?

Dai was residence along with his mom and 15-year-old brother the weekend when the threats first went on-line. Liu mentioned she had been choosing him up for weekends due to what seemed to be his worsening melancholy.

“As a result of I fear about his psychological well being, each Friday after his classes … I went to Cornell to deliver him again residence, then I might take him again Sunday evening,” she mentioned. Due to a Sunday dedication, she as an alternative returned him to Cornell on the Monday morning of Oct. 30.

Prosecutors allege that Dai posted the threats on Oct. 28 and Oct. 29. In that case, he would have been at his Pittsford residence when he did so.

Dai, whom Liu described as very disciplined and targeted within the classroom and past, had taken three earlier semesters off due to a tough transition to varsity. His psychological struggles might have been exacerbated by the sooner isolation of the pandemic, his mom mentioned.

In the summertime Dai was prescribed the anti-depressant Lexapro, a drugs often known as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, or SSRI. SSRIs enhance serotonin ranges within the mind to enhance moods and feelings.

In some circumstances, the medicine is thought to intensify melancholy and even suicidal ideas, significantly amongst younger individuals, within the early weeks after first prescribed. When persons are in a suicidal disaster, they often act in methods that aren’t recognizable to family and friends because the “actual” them; it is a medically noticed characteristic of extreme melancholy in some circumstances.

Dai had complained that the medicine was making him worse.

The household deliberate to satisfy along with his therapist to debate a change. His father, an optics professor, teaches at Tianjin College in China and is now abroad; he beforehand taught on the College of Rochester.

Liu mentioned she texted her son on Halloween and obtained no response, nor any indication that the message was delivered to his cellphone. Fearful, she drove to Cornell and couldn’t find her son at his condo. Courtroom papers present that Dai might have been questioned by the FBI on the similar time Liu was at Cornell. An FBI agent alleges in court docket papers that Dai admitted within the interview that “he was the one who used the web to submit the threatening messages.”

On the college, she mentioned, Liu encountered police at his condo. The mother mentioned they advised her Dai was secure and being questioned by police. “He solely advised me that Patrick posted one thing on-line and needed to harm himself and different individuals,” she mentioned.

Liu mentioned she needed to return to Pittsford as a result of her youthful son can be coming residence from highschool. She was nonetheless unclear what had occurred.

Earlier than she had discovered the specifics of the allegations on Oct. 31, the FBI got here to her residence and searched the home, she mentioned. Brokers seized household laptops. One laptop computer, Liu mentioned, is the machine she makes use of for an internet ordering enterprise operated from her residence. Additionally taken had been her teenage son’s laptop, which he makes use of for music compositions. He has studied on the Eastman College of Music, Liu mentioned.

It wasn’t till later that day {that a} pal texted her a narrative from the Every day Beast, headlined, “Cornell Junior Arrested for Chilling Antisemitic Mass Taking pictures Menace.” Then, she first grew to become conscious of the allegations in opposition to her son and the gravity of the fees.

“I used to be shocked,” she mentioned. “I did not get to sleep.”

She has hardly slept since, Liu mentioned.

Patrick Dai on high school tennis team.

Patrick Dai on highschool tennis workforce.

Within the days thereafter, journalists knocked on her door and photographed her residence. She known as 911 to ask for assist to maintain individuals away from her home. She additionally obtained dying threats in phone calls, some from as distant as California, Liu mentioned.

Patrick Dai is now being held within the Broome County jail. “I fear about him,” Liu mentioned. “He must take medicine.”

Faculty stress as flashpoint for Center East debate

With the present struggle waging between Israel and Hamas, a battle sparked by the Hamas Oct. 7 brutal assault on Israel civilians and army, the Israel-Palestinian battle is now the main focus of tense, divisive and seemingly intractable worldwide debates. Israel has responded with an air and floor assault on Gaza, one which has led to large civilian casualties there. In the meantime, Hamas continues to carry hostages kidnapped throughout the preliminary assaults.

Schools and universities have turn out to be specific flashpoints for the controversy. Cornell had its personal simmering controversy earlier than Dai’s arrest.

At an Oct. 15 rally, Cornell Affiliate Professor Russell Rickford acknowledged that he was initially “exhilarated” by Hamas’s assault on Israel, claiming that the group “challenged the monopoly of violence,” and acknowledged “in the event that they weren’t exhilarated by this problem to the monopoly of violence, by this shifting of the stability of energy then they’d not be human. I used to be exhilarated,” in response to the Cornell Every day Solar.

Rickford apologized for the “horrible selection of phrases” in a press release printed within the Cornell Every day Solar Oct. 18, through which he mentioned that his speech “was meant to emphasize grassroots African American, Jewish and Palestinian traditions of resistance to oppression.”

Muslim organizations at Cornell have condemned the threats allegedly made by Dai.

“We stand firmly in opposition to any type of discrimination that units out to hazard, defame or dehumanize anybody,” mentioned a press release from a number of Muslim scholar organizations, in response to the Cornell Every day Solar. “We name upon Cornell to guard the Jewish group and conduct a radical and full investigation and we hope that the accountable social gathering solutions for these harmful posts.”

It is unclear whether or not Dai and Professor Rickford crossed paths primarily based on accessible public info. Dai is a pc science scholar; Rockford teaches historical past.

A New York State Police Department cruiser is parked in front of Cornell University's Center for Jewish Living, in Ithaca, New York, Monday, Oct 30, 2023.

A New York State Police Division cruiser is parked in entrance of Cornell College’s Heart for Jewish Residing, in Ithaca, New York, Monday, Oct 30, 2023.

“Underneath the guise of grassroots activism we’re seeing various college students caught up on this political posturing that appears to be all for the assist of the independence and well-being of Palestinians but additionally is anti-Zionist and in some circumstances helps Hamas,” mentioned Monica Gebel of the Levine Heart to Finish Hate.

Gebel praised the work of college police and federal regulation enforcement to shortly make an arrest. “What’s worrisome is that with hundreds and hundreds, even tens of millions of scholars attending schools, we do not know who amongst them is correctly caring for his or her psychological well being, whose wants will not be being served and, sadly, till one thing like this occurs, we’ve got no indication of who’s struggling.”

Star of David hangs in Patrick Dai’s household residence

In 2002 Bing Liu was in Israel for post-graduate research. She introduced residence a Star of David with Hebrew textual content at its middle that she has proudly hung in her residence. By no means, she mentioned, did her son exhibit animus towards the Star of David or to Jewish individuals, each within the broader sense but additionally with friendships he had amongst college students.

Star of David in Patrick Dai's home.

Star of David in Patrick Dai’s residence.

Her son by no means dealt with a firearm, Liu mentioned. On the suggestion of a pal, she did purchase a shotgun in 2020, apprehensive about vandalism that gave the impression to be on the rise. She didn’t discover ways to use it and by no means eliminated it from the field, Liu mentioned.

Patrick as soon as requested her of the 20-gauge shotgun, “Why did you get this? It is so large.” The FBI additionally seized the gun, she mentioned.

On the residence Liu proudly shows Dai’s tutorial and sporting honors. He performed highschool tennis and was stellar in teachers. He was a Nationwide Benefit Scholar and attained the best attainable rating on his ACT standardized check, a rating reached by two-tenths of 1 p.c of check takers.

Dai has usually been her rock together with her husband away, continually serving to her throughout an earlier bout with most cancers that she suffered, Liu mentioned. Amongst his papers she has is a letter he wrote to a highschool trainer.

In it he wrote: “It is very clear that America now’s extra partisan than ever earlier than. For me at the least there’s been instances when it has been robust. Whether or not it’s tense dinner arguments with kin over competing social media postings, or political division basically. Partisanship is the illness and kindness is the remedy.”

“That is Patrick,” Liu mentioned.

It is possible that his felony case will contain psychological well being evaluations. These evaluations usually concentrate on one’s competency and skill to face trial.

Within the on-line apology, Dai — if it was his writing — spoke of psychological well being issues whereas including, “No quantity of melancholy or loneliness or disappointment is an excuse for terror or terroristic threats.”

The apology was signed “a depressed suicidal individual.”

The apology concluded with a P.S.: “As soon as it will get on the information please do not mock my mother and father or acquaintances or different relations an excessive amount of they weren’t those accountable it was all me.”

— Throughout our interview with Bing Liu, translation was not usually mandatory. However in a number of situations, a trusted household pal offered translation of her feedback into English.

— Gary Craig is a veteran reporter with the Democrat and Chronicle, overlaying courts and crime and extra. You possibly can attain Craig at He’s the writer of two books, together with “Seven Million: A Cop, a Priest, a Soldier for the IRA, and the Nonetheless-Unsolved Rochester Brink’s Heist.”

This text initially appeared on Rochester Democrat and Chronicle: Patrick Dai’s mother opens up about son’s psychological well being after Cornell threats

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