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New head of St. Louis FBI says his first priority is preventing violent attacks

Jay Greenberg, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI's St. Louis Field Office, speaks to the media from a podium
Brian Munoz
St. Louis Public Radio
Jay Greenberg, special agent in charge of the FBI's St. Louis office, speaks to the media on Tuesday.

The newly appointed head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in St. Louis says his “first and primary” focus in the role will be preventing violent attacks.

Jay Greenberg took over as the special agent in charge of the local office May 9. Less than a week later, a white teenager who embraced white supremacist ideology shot to death 10 Black people at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York. And just last week, another 21 people, mostly children, were killed at a school in Texas.

Greenberg said Tuesday during a question-and-answer session with news media that regardless of whether a planned attack is rooted in terrorism or a hate crime, “the motivation is less important than protecting the citizens from any kind of planned attack.”

While the Buffalo shooting is being investigated as a hate crime, the motive for the killings in Uvalde, Texas, is not yet clear.

Greenberg came to the St. Louis office from the agency’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., where he was a deputy assistant director of the FBI’s criminal investigative division. While in D.C., he helped lead Operation LeGend, a surge of federal law enforcement agents to cities, including St. Louis, that were struggling with violent crime.

“We obviously have a huge number of partners here around eastern Missouri, and I’m pleased to report that the partnerships are very, very strong,” he said.

Greenberg said collaborations had not been deterred by Missouri’s Second Amendment Preservation Act, which threatens local law enforcement officers with legal action if they help enforce federal gun laws.

“There is no lack of appetite for working together and collaborating, and figuring out how we can overcome any barriers in our way to keep the citizens of St. Louis and its surrounding areas safe.”

The Department of Justice has sued the state over the law. St. Louis and St. Louis and Jackson counties have also challenged its constitutionality in state court.

In addition to a focus on violent crime, Greenberg said his agents in St. Louis would concentrate on cyberattacks. There have been numerous reports nationwide of hospitals, police departments, educational facilities and state agencies becoming victims of hacking in the past year, and the number of attacks has stepped up since Russia invaded Ukraine in March.

Follow Rachel on Twitter: @rlippmann

Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.