Authorities say single tip was pivotal to hate-crime related arrest

Reporter: Anika Henanger Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:
Joshua John Leff. Credit: Lee County Sheriff’s Office.

The Fort Myers man who called mass shooters “heroes” and called for the killing of Jewish people, gay people and African American people in videos posted online remains in jail.

Joshua John Leff, 40, is unable to post his $1.1 million bond.

MORE: Fort Myers man arrested for threatening to kill minorities has bail set at $1.1 million

We learned Leff was not under the radar of law enforcement Monday. But Florida Department of Law Enforcement in Lee County acted quickly once it received a single tip.

Special Agent Shane Pollard in charge of the department in Fort Myers said his team members can’t do it alone.

“It comes down to the public sharing with us what they see,” Pollard said.

And if someone never saw what Leff is accused of posting online — rage and hate-filled threats to kill — authorities would not have either.

“We can’t be everywhere, every time, all the time,” Pollard said.

Pollard told us it’s impossible for agents to see every Tweet or Facebook post, so they count on anyone and everyone to be their eyes and ears on social media.

“There are different things that occur before targeted acts of violence such as leakage,” Pollard said. “It could be on social media.”

The tip about Leff led FDLE to his online profiles, where authorities say they found over 120 racist and violent videos.

“Posts of firearms, that’s something we pay really close attention to,” Pollard said.

Because of the tip, FDLE went to Leff’s home and discovered guns, ammunition, handgun holsters and two magazines.

“We’re looking at the behavior,” Pollard said.

That’s how investigators know if someone’s more than just a keyboard warrior.

“Everything has to be weighed out because the first amendment is very important,” Pollard said.

And speaking up to law enforcement about what the public might see online “is vital that we get the assistance from the community,” Pollard told us.

FDLE said the recent arrest of Leff is proof that communication on and offline is key in 2019.

FDLE said it was able to quickly find Leff and his online alias thanks to the single tip that was sent in.

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