A bomb threat forced the evacuation Tuesday of a Jewish Community Center in Salt Lake City. Local police dispatched to the scene determined the threat was not credible after authorities and a bomb-sniffing dog scoured the building.
Doug Hill, who works as a personal trainer at The I.J. & Jeanne Wagner Jewish Community Center, told local reporters that the employee who fielded the call containing the bomb threat at 9:24 a.m. local time told everyone to evacuate the building. The Jewish Community Center is open to people of all faiths. It also acts as a fitness center in addition to being a preschool and a kindergarten.
After being alerted, roughly 300 people, including 220 students and 80 staff members hurried out of the I.J. & Jeanne Wagner Jewish Community Center and received accommodation at a nearby hospital where students connected with their parents. The center also received a bomb threat last week.
The disturbance in Salt Lake City was among more than 35 other bomb threats made toward Jewish properties in at least 18 states in the past week, including a wave of threats Tuesday across the nation. A bomb threat prompted the evacuation Tuesday of the Boulder Jewish Community Center in Colorado. The Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center in La Jolla, California, was also evacuated Tuesday morning after receiving a bomb threat. And the Harry & Rose Samson Family Jewish Community Center in White Fish Bay, Wisconsin, was forced to undergo "safe and calm, full evacuation of our facilities,” after a bomb threat Tuesday, the president of the center, Mark Shapiro, told USA Today.
Earlier this month, 27 centers in 17 states received threats on Jan. 18. On Jan. 9, 16 centers in nine states were hit. In response to recent bomb threats, the Anti-Defamation League issued a nationwide “security advisory” on Jan. 18 to Jewish institutions. Though none of the threats were considered credible by police, the social justice group implored Jewish authorities to “take these threats seriously [and] to review ... security procedures and remain in close contact with law enforcement.”
The FBI has also launched an investigation into the threats against Jewish communities. "The FBI and the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division are investigating possible civil rights violations in connection with threats to Jewish Community Centers across the country," The FBI said in a statement.
There were 701 reported incidents of hate crimes in the week following President Donald Trump’s election, according to a report from the Southern Poverty Law Center that took data between Nov. 9 and Nov. 16, 2016. Roughly 53.3 percent of religiously motivated hate crimes were directed toward Jews in 2015, according to The Jerusalem Post on Nov. 15, 2016. The 664 hate crimes against Jewish people in 2015 was a 9 percent increase from the amount in 2014.