A suspect was arrested Friday in St. Louis, Missouri in connection with at least eight of the 90 bomb threats that were called in to U.S. Jewish Community Centers and at least one office of the Anti-Defamation League.
The man, 31-year-old Juan Thompson, is accused of making a threatening call to the ADL headquarters in New York City last week, as well as bomb threats to JCCs last month to eight JCCs in the New York area in the name of his ex-lover.
Federal prosecutors in New York are accusing Thompson of cyber-stalking a New York woman, carrying on a “campaign to harass and intimidate” by communicating the threats to eight of the JCCs in her name after their romance was over.
Thompson could face up to five years in prison on charges he’ll face in New York. He will be brought to the city after facing a judge in St. Louis, where he lives, on Friday.
New York City Police Commissioner James O’Neill told reporters in a statement, “The defendant caused havoc, expending hundreds of hours of police and law enforcement resources to respond and investigate these threats. We will continue to pursue those who pedal fear, making false claims about serious crimes… I’m grateful for the collaboration between the NYPD detectives, FBI agents and prosecutors whose cross-country investigation led to this morning’s arrest,” he added.”
The arrest follows the most recent of five waves of bomb threats to JCCs and Jewish day schools across the country — a total of 90 threats called in to 73 sites in 30 states and at least one province in Canada since Jan. 1. None of the threats resulted in any bombs.
In addition, three Jewish cemeteries have been vandalized in Missouri, Pennsylvania and New York, and one person has fired a shot at a synagogue in Indiana.
The FBI and the Civil Rights division of the Justice Department have launched a joint investigation into the ongoing chain of anti-Semitic threats and attacks across America.
Meanwhile, in Maryland, numerous officials gathered to show solidarity with the region’s Jewish Community Centers and other Jewish institutions and community members.
Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett, the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington, and the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington were joined by U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen; Representatives John Sarbanes, John Delaney, and Jamie Raskin; as well as several other State and Montgomery County Government officials at a press conference reaffirming the County’s solidarity with the Jewish community. The event was hosted by the Bender Jewish Community Center of Greater Washington in Rockville.
“We wanted to make sure that our Jewish community knows they are valued and respected,” Leggett said. “They are an integral part of our county’s celebrated, diverse makeup.”
This report, filed in New York prior to the start of the Jewish Sabbath, is a developing story.