Jewish centers in Irvine, Los Angeles among latest targets in new round of bomb threats
Community centers in Irvine and Los Angeles were among several Jewish facilities across the U.S. that were evacuated Monday during a rash of bomb threats.
In Los Angeles, the Westside Jewish Community Center received a threatening phone call on Monday, saying “a bomb was going to go off,” said Officer Tony Im, spokesman for the Los Angeles Police Department. The building in 5000 block of West Olympic Boulevard was evacuated. Police later determined the threat was not credible, he said.
In Irvine, about 1,000 people were evacuated from the Merage Jewish Community Center about 4:40 p.m. Monday when a bomb threat was called into the center, according to the Irvine Police Department. No one was injured during the incident.
Orange County Sheriff’s Department bomb-sniffing dogs searched the buildings and a parking lot, at 1 Federation Way, and “nothing suspicious was located,” police said in a statement.
Initially, police said Tarbut V’Torah school, which is on the same property, was evacuated. But on Tuesday, Celeste Signorino, director of advancement at the school, said students and staff were not evacuated. She said the center received the threat and was evacuated to the school.
Police spokeswoman Kim Mohr said school officials declined to allow bomb-sniffing dogs to search the campus.
Police said it was unclear whether the threat was tied to similar threats made across the country Monday.
According to the Anti-Defamation League, at least 20 bomb threats were made to Jewish institutions in at least 12 states Monday.
“This is the fifth wave of threats that has been called into JCCs in recent weeks,” the Anti-Defamation League said in a statement.
About 90 threats have been made to Jewish facilities, including a Bay Area community center and the ADL’s San Francisco office since the start of the year.
“While this latest round of bomb threats to Jewish Community Centers and day schools across the country again appears to not be credible, we are nonetheless urging all Jewish institutions to review their procedures,” ADL Chief Executive Jonathan A. Greenblatt said in a statement.
Greenblatt said the ADL was working with local and federal law enforcement officials to investigate the threats.
“Unfortunately, bomb threats are not the only manifestation of anti-Semitism in recent weeks, as we have seen Jewish cemetery desecrations strike St. Louis and Philadelphia,” he said.
Greenblatt has called on President Trump to adopt a plan to address the threats.
In January, the FBI announced it was 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 said in a statement to The Times.
12:45 p.m.: This article was updated with a bomb threat made to the Westside Jewish Community Center.
11:45 a.m.: This article was updated with comments from Celeste Signorino, director of advancement from Tarbut V’Torah school. She said the school was not evacuated.
This article was originally published at 9:55 a.m.
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