Photo Credit: Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh
Tree of Life, Or L’Simcha Synagogue in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh

Jews in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania have a new risk factor to keep in mind as they go about their lives.

White supremacist and violent repeat offender Hardy Lloyd, 42, has been released from federal prison and transferred on Tuesday to the custody of the Renewal work release center and halfway house, where he is expected to spend the next three months learning how to transition back to society.

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The Jewish community has already been warned by the head of security for the city’s Jewish Federation to be “vigilant” following Hardy’s release from Federal Correction Institution-McDowell in West Virginia.

“The notion is to be vigilant, to be mindful, but also to feel empowered because we’ve done such great work trying to build and protect our community,” Shawn Brokos, director of community security at the Jewish Federation, told CBS News Pittsburgh.

Lloyd has a 20-year history of hate, with three arrests and convictions behind him, along with nearly non-stop incarceration or supervised release or parole of some kind since that first arrest.

Lloyd’s most recent tangle with the law involved his violation of a condition of his release from prison — a frequent issue. He was barred from accessing social media or communicating with anyone to promote terrorism. But when authorities did a spot check on Lloyd’s smartphone to see if he was complying with the order, they found he violated the ban and did both, in addition to threatening murder as well.

Lloyd was caught distributing neo-Nazi flyers in the city and inciting violence against supporters of a ban on assault rifles — “Anyone who supports such laws must be targeted and their families murdered,” he wrote on social media. “Lone wolves GET BUSY.” In a similar vein, but more anti-Semitic, he instructed his “lone wolves” to head to the Squirrel Hill neighborhood in the city, where a domestic terrorist slaughtered a dozen Jewish worshipers in the Tree of Life synagogue two years ago. “Target: Jew Hill,” Lloyd wrote on his blog.

When his attorney argued that he has mild autism (Lloyd was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome as a child) and is “emotionally stunted,” Assistant US Attorney Stephen Kaufman pointed out the condition still did not rob him of the ability to know right from wrong, and also noted a blog post he had written claimed the Tree of Life shooting in Squirrel Hill was a “hoax.”

Those blog posts, plus a previous court case in which Lloyd squeaked by with acquittal on the August 3, 2004 shooting death of his girlfriend, Lori Hann — a killing which he later proudly bragged about on social media — showed “intent and advocacy for killing,” Kaufman contended, and urged the court to hand down a sentence of two years in response to his parole violation, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.

The jury in the shooting case did manage to convict Lloyd of carrying a firearm without a license, to serve 11.5 to 23 months, and 3 years probation.

But in April 2009, just two days after three Pittsburgh police officers were shot and killed in Stanton Heights, Lloyd wrote a post to his blog and wrote an email with high praise for the murders. A search of his home by investigators turned up 10 firearms, including two fully loaded handguns; by November he was charged with being a felon possessing a firearm.

A plea deal gave him 30 months in federal prison and three years supervised release — but he violated his release terms, and it was revoked. In August 16, he was sentenced to another 14 months in prison, followed by 22 months of supervised release.

In December 2017, he violated that release by distributing anti-Semitic flyers in Shadyside, and watched violent videos and ordered weapons on a computer, which landed him back in prison for another 13 months, followed by nine more months of supervised release.

Once again, he violated the terms of his release on August 15, 2019, this time with statements about the assault weapons ban, and the anti-Semitic statement about Squirrel Hill, and the threats to kill families.

“Law enforcement monitors individuals who have a very strong hate ideology in combination with violence,” said Brokos. “He has a history in the community of sharing and being very vocal about his anti-Semitic views.”

Largely dismissing the admission of mental illness and the apology that Lloyd offered at his most recent court hearing, Brokos — a retired FBI agent — warned local Jews to be careful, regardless of his words.

“I would hope he is getting mental health counseling and the appropriate rehabilitation but as a community, we need to be vigilant,” she pointed out. “We have no way of knowing for sure.”

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.