On Wednesday, a grand jury indicted Hassan Yehia Chokr on federal charges in connection with an anti-Semitic attack last month at a synagogue in Oakland County as new details emerged in court about his activity at a gun shop the day of the incident.
Chokr, 35, who is accused of intimidating children and parents at Temple Beth El in Bloomfield Township, was arraigned Tuesday in Oakland County Circuit Court before Judge Jacob James Cunningham and will face a pretrial hearing on April 4. He remains in Oakland County Jail on a $1 million bond in a case of anti-Semitic intimidation that has drawn national attention.
In addition to facing two counts of ethnic intimidation brought by Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald, Chokr also faces a separate criminal case in Wayne County on a previous charge involving an assault. And he now faces a federal indictment, accused of being a felon in “possession of a firearm” and “lying on a federal firearms form” when he sought to buy a shotgun, a rifle and a semiautomatic pistol at a Dearborn gun shop after he drove to the Bloomfield Township synagogue, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan Dawn Ison announced on Wednesday. The store, Dearborn Outdoors, was a federal firearms licensee that blocked him from buying guns after a background check.
“In seeking to make the purchases, Chokr filled out a federal firearms form,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a statement Wednesday. “On that form, Chokr made three false statements, any one of which would prohibit him from possessing a firearm. First, he falsely claimed that he had not been previously convicted of a felony. Second, Chokr falsely claimed that there were no felony charges currently pending against him. Finally, he falsely claimed that he had never been committed to a mental institution.”
All three were lies, Ison said, because Chokr had a 2017 felony conviction of stealing with a financial transaction device such as credit or debt cards, faces an assault charge in Wayne County and was granted in 2021 a petition by a state court for mental health treatment.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office charged Chokr last month and a federal grand jury indicted him Wednesday.
On Thursday, federal prosecutors gave new details in court filings about the gun charges, saying Chokr made inflammatory remarks while trying to purchase weapons on Dec. 2. The U.S. Attorney’s Office also produced several new images from what appears to be a store surveillance video of Chokr holding guns inside the Dearborn gun store; they show him trying out several weapons, including a Mac-10 machine gun, a 12-gauge shotgun and an AK47-style assault rifle.
The three weapons that Chokr tried to buy were a Landor Arms 12-gauge shotgun, a Glock 9mm semiautomatic pistol and a Del-ton 5.56mm rifle, prosecutors said.
“Fortunately, Chokr was denied the purchase after a background check,” said the government’s brief. “This enraged Chokr, who threatened to break into the store and ‘get his guns.’ He also posted a picture of the denial slip on social media with the words, ‘Time to bust out the drywall. Ouzzie time.'”
Chokr also was heard in the gun store saying, “It ain’t a fair fight out here. I’m going to even the score. I’m going to even the playing field real soon brothers, real soon.”
Previous hearings on other cases
At previous hearings, Chokr mooned a Detroit judge and yelled anti-Semitic slurs at a Bloomfield Township judge.
Both Chokr’s brother and his attorney, Nabih Ayad, said that he suffers from mental health problems and needs assistance rather than being in jail. They also said that while some of his words were improper, he has a constitutional right to free speech.
The Bloomfield Township police report filed in the federal case describes an officer’s interview with Chokr’s brother, Hussein Chokr.
“Hassan has been diagnosed with a mental condition, but Hussein is unsure which condition,” the police report said of its interview with the brother. “Hassan has been prescribed medications, but does not take them regularly. Hassan will act normal for a while and then become frantic and manic. Sometimes Hassan will let his emotions rage, and no one will be able to control him.”
Chokr’s attorney argued for his release from jail in the federal case, saying he is willing to have him turn “in his passport, seeking mental health treatment, being in the custody of his brother and being on a GPS tether and not be allowed near any religious institutions or gun shops.”
Chokr’s criminal history was detailed in the police report. Some of the cases included an order in 2021 that prohibited him from buying a pistol; pleading guilty that same year in a misdemeanor case involving cruelty to animals; pleading nolo contendere (no contest) in 2013 in a misdemeanor assault case in 19th District Court in Dearborn and pleading guilty in 2017 to felony stealing with a financial transaction device, which often refers to credit cards, debit cards or gift cards.
On the federal charges, Chokr faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted of either offense, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.