Sabes JCC Given All-Clear After Bomb Threat

Three hours after a bomb threat forced the evacuation of the Sabes JCC in St. Louis Park, the city’s police department gave an “all-clear.” The building will remain closed for the remainder of Wednesday, Jan. 18.

The building was evacuated by St. Louis Park police and fire departments on Wednesday shortly after 10 a.m. due to a bomb threat. According to Jacquelyn Larson, communications and marketing manager with the city of St. Louis Park, said no bomb discovered on the scene. Three teams of bomb-sniffing dogs from Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport inspected the building and found nothing of concern.

There are at least 18 JCCs around the country to have been evacuated due to a bomb threat today. Tamara Burch, the Sabes JCC’s chief operating officer said the all clear came at 1:02 p.m. The caller who made the threat was a live person, not a robocall.

Burch said that each tenant (which Jewfolk Media is), was responsible for making sure their staff were all out and report their head count to her. Burch did not have a headcount for how many users were in the facility at the time the evacuation started.

In statement from Larson sent prior to the all-clear: “At 10:03 a.m. on January 18, 2017, the St. Louis Park Police Department responded to a reported bomb threat at the Jewish Community Center, 4330 S. Cedar Lake Road, St. Louis Park. The building was evacuated and children are being reunited with their parents. The police department contacted federal authorities and was informed that similar threats occurred around the country in the last few hours at Jewish institutions. The investigation is ongoing.”

All programming on the campus was cancelled today after the evacuation was completed, according to a robo-call sent to Talmud Torah families and messages posted to Yachad’s Facebook page.

Steve Hunegs, the executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas, praised the quick response to threat.

“The Sabes JCC and Barry Family Campus were safely evacuated this morning after a bomb threat was received over the phone,” said Hunegs. “Leadership at the Sabes JCC and Barry Family Campus showed tremendous poise in responding to this incident. JCC’s in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Florida, Massachusetts and Maine received similar bomb threats today. The JCRC is working in close cooperation with law enforcement and appreciates their quick response to this incident. Please respect law enforcement as they continue to investigate this incident.”

Media in Michigan also reported a threat called in to the JCC in the suburb of West Bloomfield. The events around the country today come a week after bomb threats were called into at least 16 JCCs in nine states. Several of those calls came from robocalls. The Jewish Community Center Association said that the FBI had opened an investigation into the threats.

“We’re in contact with everyone, and we’re definitely doing our diligence to make sure we’re abreast of anything happening around the country,” Burch said.