Another bomb threat at the JCC in Brighton

Mar 12, 2017

Credit Caitlin Whyte / WXXI News

Brighton Police report that shortly after 10am Sunday, the Jewish Community Center received a number of threats via email stating that there was an explosive device planted in the facility.

A similar event occurred just a week ago, when the center received email threats that lead to an evacuation early Tuesday morning.

300 people were evacuated from the facility Sunday. Brighton police then searched the 180,000 square foot building, calling in a number of nitrate dogs as well and found nothing of a suspicious nature.

Brighton Police Chief Mark Henderson said this is part of a bigger trend occurring across the nation.

"This reaches beyond the Brighton borders. It reaches beyond the New York borders. And the FBI is playing a very lead role in this."

Around 150 threats to Jewish community centers have been reported across the country since early January, and Henderson says they could be defined as hate crimes.

"I would say it would be a hate crime. I talked to staff and I talked to members the other day. It’s directed at the Jewish Community Center of Rochester here in Brighton. The threats that are being received across the country are being directed to Jewish facilities. I believe this has hate crime aspects to it."

Henderson said the two incidents could be related, but are being investigated separately. Brighton Police reached out to the New York State Police, Monroe County Sheriff and FBI Sunday, just as they did after the first incident. There were reports of several similar incidents across the U.S. and Canada affecting JCC's or other Jewish institutions on Sunday.

Brighton Police Chief Mark Henderson, JCC Executive Director Arnie Sohinki, Brighton town supervisor Bill Moehle
Credit Caitlin Whyte / WXXI News

Brighton town supervisor Bill Moehle said the JCC is an important part of the Brighton community, especially lately.

"They opened their doors to the community as a warming center, they’ve tried to do that ever since the storm, and so many people from the Brighton community and beyond benefited."

The JCC reopened Sunday afternoon at 3pm, and continues to be open as a warming center for those still without power.

Gov. Cuomo issued this statement on Sunday:

"The new bomb threat against the Brighton Jewish Community Center -- the second threat in less than a week -- is a despicable and cowardly act that will not be tolerated in New York. It is especially repugnant that this latest act of anti-Semitism took place on Purim, a day that we celebrate the resiliency of the Jewish people.

"I am directing the New York State Police to coordinate with federal and local law enforcement to launch a full investigation into this matter. State Police are currently on the scene and working in partnership with local authorities, including the Brighton Police Department. We will find whoever is responsible for this and bring them to justice.

"Like all New Yorkers, I am profoundly disturbed and disgusted by the continued threats against the Jewish community in New York. As New Yorkers, we will not be intimidated and we will not stand by silently as some seek to sow hate and division. New York is one family, and an attack on one is an attack on all."

When a threat came in last Tuesday, authorities indicated that they were looking to see whether the threat was connected to several other threats made to JCC’s and other Jewish institutions at around the same time.

Last week’s threat involved an email message, and that incident is still under investigation.