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2016-01-29 digital edition

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The Jewish Press of Tampa and the Jewish Press of Pinellas County are Independently- owned biweekly Jewish community newspapers published in cooperation with and supported by the Tampa JCC & Federation and the Jewish Federation of Pinellas & Pasco Counties, respectively. Copyright © 2009-2019 The Jewish Press Group of Tampa Bay, Inc., All Rights Reserved.


January 29, 2016  RSS feed

Text: T T T

Jewish schools in 3 Florida cities including Tampa evacuated following bomb threats

JTA news service and Jewish Press staff

Jewish schools in Tampa and two other Florida cities were evacuated on Tuesday, Jan. 26 after receiving bomb threats.

In Tampa, the Hebrew Academy at Chabad of Tampa Bay, 14908 Pennington Road, received a bomb threat. Deputies evacuated the premises, with children sent to the grounds of a public school across the street, said Hillsborough County Sheriff’s spokeswoman Debbie Carter. Dogs were used to search for explosives, none were found and in about an hour the students returned to their classes, she said.

The Meyer Academy in Palm Beach Gardens was evacuated Tuesday morning after police responded to a threat there. The threat also forced the evacuation of the Mandel Jewish Community Center located next door, according to reports. Students and employees were sent home for the day.

In Maitland, near Orlando, preschool and elementary students at the Jewish Academy of Orlando were evacuated to a nearby public elementary school after a bomb threat was called in at about 10 a.m. The public school also was locked down as a precaution, according to local media. Parents were informed to come and pick up their children.

The caller said he wanted to hurt as many children as possible, Maitland Police Lt. Louis Grindle told Orange County television station WFTV.

The Roth Family JCC, the Holocaust Center and the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando, which all share a campus with the school, also were evacuated and closed for the day, according to the federation.

In all three cities, police found no explosives.

The Florida office of the Anti-Defamation League put out a press release on the bomb threats, condemning the incidents and advising Jewish institutions of ADL and FBI security resources available.

The ADL said a number of the threats appear to have been called in with a “spoof” phone number, which makes use of forged numbers and identity. One of the “spoof” numbers included an Ohio area code. As of the day of the incidents, ADL reported that it was not known whether the threats are linked.

“Today in Florida, there were at least four attempts to intimidate Jewish communities by threatening children – threatening to bomb Jewish schools while teachers were teaching and students were learning. When hate-filled people threaten peace and security, we as a broad and diverse community need to stand together,” said Hava L. Holzhauer, ADL Florida Regional Director. “We commend the quick response of law enforcement in these incidents.”

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