Three Los Angeles Synagogues Evacuated Due to Bomb Threats

By | June 11, 2017

By Joel Leyden
Israel News Agency

Los Angeles — June 11, 2017 … Bomb threats against Jewish facilities in the US continue as three Los Angeles synagogues were evacuated following a series of online bomb threats. The hate crimes disrupted normally scheduled Shabbat activities on June 10.

The Glazer and Irmas campuses of Wilshire Boulevard Temple as well as University Synagogue in Brentwood were closed shortly after 8 a.m., according to Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD). By about 12:45 p.m., LAPD cleared all locations to reopen.

“K9 units responded to the locations to make sure to render all locations safe,” an LAPD spokesperson said. “At this time we have no credible threats.”

Local police and the FBI recently closed a case against an 18-year-old dual American Israeli living in Ashkelon, Israel who was arrested in March under suspicion of being responsible for a series of bomb and other threats to Jewish communities in the US, Europe, Australia and New Zealand that date back around six months.

His parents claim their son has mental issues suffering from severe autism and a brain tumor that affects his behavior, which led him to issue the threats. A gag order in Israel has been placed on the identity of the suspect.

In March, a St. Louis man, Juan Thompson, was arrested and appeared in federal court on a cyberstalking charge. Thompson, 32, who originally denied the charges in New York City federal court in April has now pleaded guilty to threatening eight JCC facilities. Prosecutors said in a letter filed on Tuesday with the court said that Thompson will enter a guilty plea when he appears in court on June 12.

Federal officials had been investigating over 120 bomb threats called in to Jewish organizations in three dozen states since January 9 and a rash of vandalism at Jewish cemeteries.

Rabbi Morley T. Feinstein of University Synagogue in LA said a staff member “found an email that was beyond nasty — horrific language, and threatening” in a temple email account and its executive director, Lisabeth Lobenthal, called the police.

About 10 police officers answered the call.

Don Levy, the director of marketing and communications at Wilshire Boulevard Temple, said a threat came in Saturday morning via an online submission form on the synagogue’s website. LAPD was notified immediately and the synagogue’s campuses were shut down. Levy said no one was at either the synagogue’s Irmas Campus in West L.A. or its flagship Koreatown building, the Glazer Campus, at the time the threats were made.

“While a communication like that can come in through something as innocuous as an online submission form, we take them all seriously,” he said. “We take any threat seriously and investigate it thoroughly to protect everybody’s safety.”

LAPD urged Jewish communities to exercise vigilance.

“We just want to remind the community to be aware of their surroundings. If they see something, say something.”

ADL National Director Jonathan Greenblatt‏ stated that the “ADL was standing with​ the Los Angeles Jewish community after the bomb threats defiled Shabbat, reminding us that challenges persist.”

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