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Jewish Community Centers in Kentucky, Connecticut Are Targets of Bomb Threats

These threats add to the more than 140 made against JCCs, Jewish day schools and other Jewish institutions in the first two months of this year alone.
Image: Louisville JCC
WAVE 3 News

Jewish community centers in Connecticut and Kentucky were the latest targets of separate bomb threats Wednesday, local authorities said, following a flurry of menacing calls and emails to facilities in several states a day earlier.

The first threat was emailed overnight to the Jewish Community Center in West Hartford, reported NBC Connecticut. Authorities and center officials swept the building, but found no explosives, the station said. It was the second time this year the center has been the subject of threats, according to police.

Related: New Wave of Bomb Threats Against Jewish Centers Hit New York, Florida, Chicago

Another bomb threat was called in to the Louisville Jewish Community Center around noon ET with authorities arriving minutes later.

"The building has been evacuated and all occupants have been taken to a safe area. There have been no injuries reported," Louisville police said on its Facebook page.

Image: Louisville JCC
WAVE 3 News

These latest threats add to the more than 140 made against JCCs, Jewish day schools and other Jewish institutions in the first two months of this year alone, according to the Anti-Defamation League. The ADL said four of its offices were targeted Tuesday.

Just last week, the Louisville Jewish Community Center's president, Sara Wagner, called out the spate of attacks.

"The recent rise in anti-Semitism, discrimination and the rhetoric of hate, including the recent acts of desecration on Jewish cemeteries in St. Louis and Philadelphia, are difficult to absorb and understand," Wagner said in a statement. "Yet, this moment is not just a Jewish moment. This is a cultural moment, in which we are challenged to stand united against all hatred and discrimination."

In Alabama, state Attorney General Steve Marshall on Wednesday condemned the repeated threats at one Birmingham center as "cowardly," and said he would "commit whatever resources and support our federal partners may require to apprehend and bring to justice those responsible."

So far, the FBI has arrested 31-year-old former journalist Juan Thompson, who allegedly made at least eight bomb threats to Jewish centers across the country as well as to the Anti-Defamation League’s headquarters posing as his ex-girlfriend in an attempt to frame her, according to prosecutors.

Thompson is charged with cyber stalking and appeared in a St. Louis federal court Wednesday for a preliminary hearing. A judge heard arguments about whether Thompson should be held in jail or be put on house arrest, but made no decision.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer acknowledged the fresh round of bomb threats at a press briefing Tuesday, and said the administration would "continue to condemn them and look at ways to stop them."

Related: JCC Threats: Missouri Man Arrested for Copycat Hoaxes

But that did not calm the swarm of outrage among civil rights groups who felt the threats were a byproduct of last year's divisive presidential election.

"Mr. President, do you need to see deaths, and how many will it take, before you recognize Antisemitism in America as the national emergency it is?" Steven Goldstein, executive director of the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect, asked in a statement.