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Police Respond To Another Bomb Threat Against Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center

Claire Trageser
The Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center is shown in this undated photo.
Police Respond To Another Bomb Threat Against Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center
Police Respond To Another Bomb Threat Against Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center GUEST: Tammy Gillies, San Diego regional director, Anti-Defamation League

Our top story on midday edition once again yesterday the police and bomb sniffing dogs were called to a Lawrence family Jewish community center in University City. For the fourth time since the beginning of this year the JCC with the target of a bomb threat. No devices have been found and no one has been injured. The hoax comes at the same time that that's have been made to Jewish centers across the country along with incidents like vandalism at Jewish cemeteries. One of the questions people are asking is, why now? Joining me is Tammy Gillies. She is San Diego regional director for the antidefamation league. Welcome to the program. Thank you. Happy to be here. Lease one of these bomb threats seem to be traced. It could be a disgruntled ex boyfriend emailed the Jacob center last month. Do you know any other suspects the police have identified? No. We feel that one was a copycat of the original threat. Kind of disruption have these threats cause the center? For the first three threats they evacuated the entire center which means taking kids out of their preschool classes, gathering them up and moving out the entire JCC including the gym and all the senior adult activities. The emotional disruption must be something else again? The purpose of these threats is to instill fear in a community. That is working. We are saying that parents are afraid, people are concerned, even people outside of the GCC -- parents that have their children at any Jewish institution are now very concerned. The antidefamation league in San Diego held a meeting last week with local law enforcement along with a representative from the FBI. I read 500 people showed up to that meeting. What did you hear from the community? We heard that they are afraid, they want to know what the FBI is doing and that our message to them is that we understand, we are working closely with law enforcement but we must go about our daily business. We cannot hide. We cannot live in fear. We must stay strong as a community. Did law enforcement give you any assurances of may be beefing up security? Yes. Our law enforcement partners particularly in San Diego have been amazing in responding to the community and they are aware and understand the impact of fear in the community and they are working very closely with us to do the best they can. How unusual is this rash of threats? Jewish organizations are used of being the targets of threats. That's true. At the ADL haters have always hated us. We have always been behind locked doors. I've been doing this for 10 years and this is absolutely the worst I've ever seen. Some people have attributed this increase in anti-Semitic attacks to the election of Donald Trump. Did you see that there is any connection? Anti-Semitism has been around for thousands of years. We've been through things like this before. However, I would say the election cycle in itself had brought out a lot of hateful rhetoric and clearly since the inauguration, I think the people on what they called the all right which is a fancy word for the white suppressive miss feel emboldened. The president has condemned the threat of Jewish centers and vandalism at Jewish cemeteries. There has been criticism that has been too little and too late. What steps would you like to see the administration take to protect or speak out against acts of anti-Semitism and hate. We are looking for the administration to move from rhetoric into real action and we would like more resources going towards finding those that are responsible for this. We would also like a civil rights task force to be convened by the president because it's not just the Jewish community that is struggling. It is all minority communities and we are looking for leadership from the top to say, this is still America and you do not need to be afraid. We will protect you. You just set the message is you will be going out and doing your work. You are not what to let these things intimidate you. Are you bracing for more such incidents? We absolutely are. We are working with every single Jewish institution in San Diego on their security plan, safety plan. The most important thing is keeping people safe. We are working on those plans and we are hoping for the best and the parent for the worse. Been speaking with Tammy Gillies San Diego regional director for the antidefamation league. Thank you. Thank you.

Another in a series of bogus bomb threats against Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center in University City prompted police to search the facility Wednesday.

Administrators at the Executive Drive center contacted San Diego police shortly before 11 a.m. to report receiving the menacing email, SDPD spokesman Billy Hernandez said.

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Officers went through the complex with bomb-sniffing dogs to make sure no hazards were present. No evacuation was instituted, unlike on the previous occasions when the same crime was committed, Hernandez said.

RELATED: SDPD Investigates Another Threat To Local JCC As Trump Says Anti-Semitism ‘Is Horrible’

By early afternoon, police had completed their search and deemed the threat unfounded, according to Dan Shapiro, Lawrence Family JCC's director of marketing.

It was at least the fourth phony threat made against the local Jewish community center in recent months amid a rash of similar hate crimes across the country.

RELATED: San Diego Mayor Faulconer Calls Threats To JCC ‘Cowardly’

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Last week, a man was arrested in St. Louis in connection with at least eight fake bomb threats against Jewish centers across the country, including the one in northern San Diego, as part of an alleged campaign to harass a former girlfriend.

Juan Thompson, 31, allegedly targeted Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center on Feb. 20, according to a criminal complaint. Late that night, the facility received an email falsely claiming that Thompson's former girlfriend had planted a bomb there to "kill as many Jews asap (sic)," according to the charging document.