This is a developing story.
NEW YORK (JTA) — A St. Louis man has been charged for making at least eight bomb threats against Jewish community centers and the Anti-Defamation League.
Juan Thompson, 31, made some of the threats in the name of a former romantic partner whom he had been cyberstalking, according to a statement Friday by the U.S. Attorney of Southern New York. Thompson has been charged with cyberstalking, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.
“Today, we have charged Juan Thompson with allegedly stalking a former romantic interest by, among other things, making bomb threats in her name to Jewish Community Centers and to the Anti-Defamation League,” U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement. “Threats of violence targeting people and places based on religion or race – whatever the motivation – are unacceptable, un-American, and criminal. We are committed to pursuing and prosecuting those who foment fear and hate through such criminal threats.”
Thompson made some of the threats in his victim’s name, and some in his own name, in an attempt to portray himself as being framed for making the threats.
In total, more than 100 Jewish institutions, mostly Jewish community centers, have received bomb threats since the beginning of the year. The last two weeks saw vandalism at Jewish cemeteries in Philadelphia, St. Louis and Rochester, N.Y., as well as two more waves of bomb threats called into JCCs, schools and institutions across the country, representing the fourth and fifth waves of such harassment this year. No bomb was found after any of the calls.
“The NYPD and the FBI have done an outstanding job in this regard,” Paul Goldenberg, director of the Secure Community Network, which coordinates security for Jewish institutions, told JTA Friday. “We at SCN and the Jewish Federations of North America commend them and hold them in the highest regard.”
The threats prompted clamor for President Trump to condemn the anti-Semitism behind the targeting of these Jewish institutions.
After initially demurring to comment directly when asked about the spate of recent anti-Semitic incidents, Trump eventually called the threats to the community centers “horrible” and “painful,” and Vice President Mike Pence paid a visit to a Jewish cemetery vandalized near St. Louis.