North Side Jewish School Evacuated After Bomb Threat

File photo of a parked Chicago police SUV.
Paula Friedrich / WBEZ
File photo of a parked Chicago police SUV.
Paula Friedrich / WBEZ

North Side Jewish School Evacuated After Bomb Threat

CHICAGO (AP) — Authorities say students were evacuated for nearly two hours from a Jewish grade school in Chicago after someone called in a bomb threat.

Police shut down several streets surrounding the Chicago Jewish Day School on the city’s north side after the threat was reported Tuesday morning.

Police say school staff decided to evacuate the students and staff members. Police dogs were used to search around the school, but police didn’t immediately say whether anything was found before students were allowed to return. The school’s website says it has more than 200 students from junior kindergarten to eighth grade.

The Chicago threat comes as the New York-based Anti-Defamation League and several Jewish community centers across the country reported a new round of bomb threats Tuesday.

The JCC Association of North America said several Jewish community centers received email or phone threats overnight and early Tuesday but didn’t specify how many.

Two suburban Jewish community centers in upstate New York were shut down when someone phoned in bomb threats, authorities said. The Jewish Community Center in the Milwaukee suburb of Whitefish Bay was closed for almost two hours.

In Providence, Rhode Island, police said an administrator at the Jewish Community Day School, attached to a synagogue, received a threat Tuesday morning alleging there was a shooter with an assault rifle on the roof of the building. Police and a K-9 team swept the building; no one was found.

In New York, Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said there were five threats made, including to the Anti-Defamation League, which also received threats to offices in Atlanta, Boston and Washington, D.C. and in Oregon, Wisconsin, Illinois, Florida, Maryland and Toronto.

“This is a moment in time, in history, where forces of hate have been unleashed,” New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a Jewish Community Center on Staten Island that had received threats. “It is exceedingly unsettling.”

Federal officials have been investigating more than 120 threats against Jewish organizations in three dozen states since Jan. 9 and a rash of vandalism at Jewish cemeteries.

On Friday, Missouri resident Juan Thompson was arrested on a cyberstalking charge and accused of making at least eight of the threats nationwide, including one to the ADL. Authorities said Thompson was trying to harass and frame his ex-girlfriend by pinning the threats on her.

A criminal complaint said Thompson started making threats Jan. 28. He claimed on Twitter the ex-girlfriend was behind the calls. Thompson is scheduled to appear in court Wednesday in St. Louis for a hearing to determine if he should remain detained pending trial.

Authorities are looking for other suspects in the threats.

Thompson briefly interned at WBEZ and DNAinfo Chicago before working for the online publication The Intercept, which fired him last year after he was accused of fabricating several quotes and creating fake email accounts to impersonate people, including the Intercept’s editor-in-chief.