Hoax threat disrupts Bay Area Jewish community center and others across the nation

A Jewish community center in Marin County was one of several centers across the nation to receive bomb threats Wednesday. 

Staffers at Osher Marin Jewish Community Center received the threatening call at 8:45 a.m., according to the Marin County Sheriff’s Office.

Sheriff’s deputies quickly responded and evacuated the facility in the 200 block of North San Pedro Road in San Rafael. Surrounding schools were placed on lockdown as deputies searched the center and investigated the threat, authorities said.

On Wednesday morning, a message on the nonprofit center’s website advised visitors that its facility was closed “due to unforeseen circumstances.”

By 11:32 a.m., sheriff’s officials said they had not found a suspicious device and that the search had ended.

Jeremy Russell, a spokesman for Jewish Community Relations Council in San Francisco, said his organization was “urging caution, calm and full cooperation with authorities.”

Similar threats, which did not appear to be credible, were also made Wednesday at Jewish community centers in more than a dozen states, according to the Anti-Defamation League.

“ADL is closely monitoring the situation and has been in touch with federal and local law enforcement across the country,” the organization said in a statement.

In addition to California, threats were reported in New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Florida, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Delaware, Connecticut, Alabama, Maine, Tennessee, South Carolina, Missouri and Texas, the ADL said.

Following the series of bomb threats, the organization issued an advisory to Jewish institutions throughout the U.S. and recommended that they review their security procedures.

“While each incident needs to be taken seriously and investigated closely, thus far we are not aware of any of these threats being substantiated,” ADL Chief Executive Jonathan A. Greenblatt said in a statement.

The Albany Times Union in New York reported the FBI was investigating a bomb threat made at the Albany Jewish Community Center.

A string of threats were made last week to more than a dozen Jewish community centers throughout the U.S.

At the time, the ADL said some of those threats had been made from the same phone number.

“Unfortunately, such threats are not new to the Jewish community,” Greenblatt said in a statement.

Bomb threats, he said, are “used as scare tactics in order to disrupt an institution’s operations, and to cause fear and panic.”

The ADL in Los Angeles also sent security advisories to Jewish institutions in L.A., Kern, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

The FBI and U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Bureau are investigating possible civil rights violations in connection with the threats across the U.S.

“The FBI will collect all available facts and evidence, and will ensure this matter is investigated in a fair, thorough and impartial manner,” the FBI in a statement to The Times.

veronica.rocha@latimes.com

For breaking news in California, follow @VeronicaRochaLA on Twitter.

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UPDATES:

2:40 p.m.: This article was updated with comments from the FBI.

1:05 p.m.: This article was updated with comments from the Anti-Defamation League.

11:50 a.m.: This article was updated with Marin County sheriff’s officials saying no suspicious device was found.

This article was originally published at 10:45 a.m.

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