St. Louis man arrested for bomb threats against Jewish institutions


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.

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He had once worked as a reporter for The Intercept, but he was fired after the online news organization learned that he had been making up sources, according to the Riverfront Times.

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 PhiladelphiaSt. 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.

“We are grateful for any forward movement in this case, but it seems there is still much to be learned,” Lynn Wittels, president and CEO of the Jewish Community Center of St. Louis, said in a statement. “We are also very thankful for the continued efforts and commitment of our local and federal law enforcement.”

Paul Goldenberg, director of the Secure Community Network, which coordinates security for Jewish institutions, told JTA Friday that the NYPD and the FBI “have done an outstanding job in this regard. We at SCN and the Jewish Federations of North America commend them and hold them in the highest regard.”