A former teacher and his twin brother kept more than 30 pounds of bomb-making materials in their Bronx home, along with a note suggesting they were planning to slaughter children, authorities said.
Federal officials arrested Christian and Tyler Toro, 27, in an early morning raid Thursday at their Pelham Parkway apartment and uncovered the material, along with notes and a diary referring to a plan called “Operation Code Name Flash,” authorities said.
“Under the full moon the small ones will know terror,” read a purple index card packed inside a yellow backpack, according to a criminal complaint.
The quote appears to be a reference to online conspiracy theories about CIA mind control. Police and federal officials wouldn’t comment on what it meant, what the brothers were planning or why.
Police and the feds wouldn’t comment on what it meant, what the brothers were planning or why.
“We don’t know at this point in the investigation … the full breadth of what these materials mean,” said John Miller, the NYPD’s Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence and Counterterrorism.
Authorities found 20 pounds of iron oxide, 5 pounds of aluminum powder, 5 pounds of potassium nitrate and 2 pounds of confectioner’s sugar, as well as a jar of explosive powder and metal fragments — all of which they said can be used to make bombs.
The raid also turned up Tyler Toro’s diary, which read, “We are twin Toros strike us now, we will return with nano thermite,” according to the complaint.
“We are twin Toros strike us now, we will return with nano thermite,” the diary also read.
Christian Toro, then a teacher at Democracy Prep Harlem High School, allegedly paid students $50 an hour to break apart fireworks and take the explosives inside, the feds and police sources said.
A Dec. 4 bomb threat by a 15-year-old student lead to the plan’s unraveling, Miller explained. That student was arrested, and in early January, Christian Toro abruptly quit his job at the school, Miller said.
Two days later, Tyler Toro returned his brother’s school-issued laptop, and a technical specialist at the school found a digital copy of a bomb-making book on it, the feds allege. The tech reported the book, sparking the probe.
“What we’re seeing here in this case already is some good people stepped forward with information — and that information was crucial to law enforcement,” Mayor de Blasio said.
Toro worked for Democracy Prep since August 2016, though he didn’t return to work after Dec. 21, said Rochelle Ritchie, a spokeswoman for the charter school. He officially resigned on Jan. 9, she said.
“After he resigned, Democracy Prep did a routine review of his laptop and was deeply disturbed by suspicious content,” she said. “We immediately notified law enforcement of the content on Mr. Toro’s laptop.”
Miller said the investigation into bomb threat led to Christian Toro being arrested for rape, but wouldn’t go into details.
The ex-special-education teacher was busted on Jan. 31 for allegedly having a series of sexual encounters with a 15-year-old girl in his apartment between September 2017 and January, according to court documents.
That development warranted an entry in his twin’s diary — “Christian arrested.”
“If you’re registered as a sex offender, things will be difficult. but I am here 100%, living, buying weapons. Whatever we need,” the diary reads, according to the complaint.
The FBI confronted Christian Toro about bombmaking in the book on Feb. 8. He said he “had been researching the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings” and “had never built a bomb and had only looked at the Explosives Books table of contents,” court papers state.
When the feds questioned students at Harlem Prep, on Wednesday they learned that “at least two students” went to the brothers’ home to break apart fireworks and store the explosive powder in containers.
“From what we know at this point the individuals involved have all been apprehended,” de Blasio said. “Again, this is preliminary information, but there is no additional imminent threat directed at New York City at this time.”
Both siblings used to work at a Shake Shack restaurant, and studied at Stony Brook University, according to their Facebook pages.
Christian Toro’s college classmates were stunned by his arrest, said one Stony Brook friend.
“He was the nicest, sanest one out of all of us,” said the friend, who requested anonymity. “He was almost like the father-type figure, the voice of reason…. He seemed like a kid from the Bronx who was trying to have an honest go at it.”
The Toros’ neighbors said they lived with their mother, Carmen Melendez, 58, and she was on hand when law enforcement raided the apartment.
“The cops were banging on their door saying, open up! Open the door!” said Raymond Del Villar, 20, a restaurant worker.
“They took the two guys out and their mother too. They cuffed the guys in front of the elevator. The mother just stood there in the hallway.”
“I could not have ever imagined it in a million years. These are college-educated people. They went to school and then they went to work.You never know your neighbors,” said Rochelle Shapiro, 63.
“Their mother is a lovely lady. They’re nice, clean, neat boys.”
With Kerry Burke, Laura Dimon
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