An ex-math teacher and his twin brother faced indictment in Manhattan Federal Court on Thursday, March 15 on counts of conspiracy, unlawful manufacturing and posession of an explosive device, after being held without bail since late February.
When the FBI and NYPD raided Christian and Tyler Toro’s Pelham Parkway Apartment 4C at 2121 Matthews Avenue on Thursday, February 15, a jar of explosive powder and a box of firecrackers were discovered among over 30 pounds of explosive materials.
Gasoline and Styrofoam was also recovered on the twins’ fire escape which Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Hanft described as ‘improvised napalm.’
During the raid, Christian was allegedly busted trying to flush marijuana down his toilet.
The twins allegedly texted each other about tactics conducted by the Las Vegas shooter, Stephen Paddock.
Christian and Tyler intended to purchase a police radio much like Paddock had during his attack last October.
A cybercrime task force also recovered hidden digital devices and media from the twins.
The brothers were interviewed by the FBI just days before their arrest regarding a downloaded explosives manual found on Christian’s work computer from Harlem Prep High School, where he taught special education.
Christian stopped going to work after a 15-year-old female student was arrested in connection to a bomb scare at the school last December.
He formally resigned in January.
Christian was arrested on Wednesday, January 10 for the alleged third-degree rape of the same girl on two occasions.
While investigating the rape, law enforcement learned from students that Christian had allegedly paid at least two students approximately $50 an hour to break apart fireworks to extract their gunpowder.
A diary was also found that had entries of an operation with the codename ‘Flash’ in addition to an index card that had “UNDER THE FULL MOON THE SMALL ONES WILL KNOW TERROR,” handwritten on it.
Law enforcement have interpreted the threat to potentially be directed towards children, including students at Harlem Prep.
That phrase was traced back to a cryptic message on the Twitter of @ZEAUX_CXT from April 2017 that was decrypted to be the same.
ZEAUX had appeared to be an agent of the dark web until Saturday, February 17, when its creator, came out saying it was only a game while subsequently terminating it.
The creator, who’s on Facebook as Äma Amon of Portland, OR, published a detailed explanation of the account on multiple platforms, including ZEAUX’s Twitter.
“I have no desire to waste the authorities’ time on what was essentially an art project with the added intention of bringing attention to a truly lecherous internet fad,” said Amon.
ZEAUX along with linked accounts were an ‘alternate reality game’ or ARG for short.
Amon, also known as ‘PK’, titled the ARG as ‘PK17.’
PK17 coded clues to a series of historical conspiracies through a random scrambling of letter sequences, inverted colors, symbols, cryptic videos and handwritten notes which took players from platform to platform in order to ‘win the game.’
Essentially, it was a playable version of ‘The Da Vinci Code,’ only much, much darker.
Themes of the ARG were: serial killers, the Finder’s Cult, child abuse, torture, cannibalism, worship of the Roman god Saturn, coding, MK-Ultra government mind control and other conspiracy theories.
“I used true crime, psychological horror for atmosphere and ciphers which worked as breadcrumbs to lead people to the various topics covered in the ARG,” said Amon.
“In the age of social media it’s not enough to simply post links. You have to metaphorically grab someone by the shirt,” Amon added.
Amon had also admitted the handwritten quote was taken directly from the ARG.
Since the passing of their grandmother in early September 2017, the 27-year-old Toro twins allegedly became obsessed with conspiracy theories through ‘rabbit holes’ on the internet.
The brothers attended and graduated from Stony Brook University on Long Island in 2012.
Tyler studied economics and Christian’s degree was in education.
Since 2013, Tyler had managed a Shake Shack until being let go on Wednesday, January 3 for ‘unsatisfactory performance.’
Christian is charged with one count of unlawfully manufacturing a destructive device and one count of distribution of explosive materials to a minor.
Tyler is charged with one count of unlawfully manufacturing a destructive device.
Terror charges have not been filed yet against the brothers.
Authorities said the investigation is ongoing as they remain held without bail.
No motive has yet been determined, however officials communicated that there is no credible threat to NYC.
It is still uncertain if other players of PK17 or similar games intended to carry out subversive plots like ‘Operation Flash.’