WXXI AM News

FBI looking at possible link to Brighton JCC bomb threat and others across the country

Mar 7, 2017

Reports indicate at least five Jewish Community Centers around the United States received bomb threats between Monday night and Tuesday afternoon.

A Brighton JCC employee received a threat around 6 a.m. Tuesday in their company email account, forcing staff members to evacuate the building with nearly 80 patrons inside.

Brighton Police are working with the Monroe County Sheriff's department and the FBI to investigate the local case. Brighton Police Chief Mark Henderson said the incidents could be connected.

“From my last communication with the FBI, they're looking at the [threats] as possibly being linked to those that were received at JCCs across the country,” Henderson said. 

Police investigate after a bomb threat at the Jewish Community Center in Brighton.
Credit SASHA-ANN SIMONS/ WXXI NEWS

The bomb threat marks yet another occurrence of hate crimes in recent weeks. Headstones have also been vandalized in at least three Jewish cemeteries around the country.

“Since this wave of threats to the JCC, we have been doing outreach to not just Jewish facilities, but all faith-based facilities in the town of Brighton,” Henderson said.

The various law enforcement agencies thoroughly searched the center using a specially trained bomb sniffing dog, and the building reopened for business after four hours.

Brighton JCC Executive Director Arnie Sohinki said he is focused on moving forward from the scare and sharing best practices with employees.

“We do a debrief with staff: what worked, what didn’t work, what do we need to do differently, what do we need to tweak, and are there things that we can improve on,” Sohinki said. “We just want to make sure we have the right operations in place.”

Offices of the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish advocacy group, also received threats in multiple locations.

The FBI National Press Office released the following statement by email:

“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 will collect all available facts and evidence, and will ensure this matter is investigate in a fair, thorough, and impartial manner. As this matter is ongoing, we are not able to comment further at this time.”