YONKERS, NY — Yonkers increased security for its annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade after authorities thwarted a threat against the event.
As CBS2’s Leah Mishkin reported, there was a sense of relief Saturday morning after the man accused of murdering the police and the mayor was arrested.
Ridon Kola appeared before a judge in federal court on Friday after a multi-agency investigation uncovered threats on social media. The FBI said the 32-year-old, who lives near the parade route, also sent a disturbing message to the Yonkers police department.
“I will be crucifying Yonkers agents and their bosses all along McLean Ave., and it will be a horror scene,” the message read in part.
Check out Leah Mishkin’s report
Members of the FBI and NYPD’s joint terrorism task force intercepted the alleged threat and made an arrest prior to the parade.
“Most of the time these things are baseless. Most of the time these things don’t pan out, but we have to be vigilant and we have to be 100 percent,” said Mayor Mike Spano.
On Saturday, security was tight with law enforcement in full force, both in uniform and undercover, as a sea of green washed down McLean Avenue.
“Excellent. Better than ever,” said one onlooker.
“It’s like family,” said another.
“It’s great. We love it,” said another paradegoer.
Families say the alleged threats of violence and support for radical Islamic extremism are frightening, and they are thankful that police were able to prevent any possible chaos.
“A huge relief because that’s one of my biggest fears now that I have kids,” said Mount Vernon resident Cristina Hartoularos.
“My friends said, ‘Be careful. Don’t go.’ I said my grandchildren are half Irish, I’m leaving,” said one Yonkers resident.
People from far and wide came to St. Patrick’s Day, including little Paddy, who visited from Ireland and showed off his own Irish dance moves.
It was a wonderful party with people at ease.
“It’s really the community coming together, so it’s fantastic,” said Yonkers resident Brian Hunt.
“This parade is getting bigger and bigger. The people are so friendly and nice,” said Yonkers resident Ather Adams.
The mayor says more than 30,000 people attended the celebration, an event many families look forward to each year.