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Update: Albany JCC Bomb Threat Aftermath

Facebook: Albany JCC

The Jewish Community Center in Albany was evacuated and searched Sunday after it and several other centers around the country received anonymous emails with vague threats that mentioned a bomb.

According to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office, Cuomo went to the Sidney Albert JCC Sunday after police evacuated about 100 people, searched the building with dogs and declared it safe. Albany Police Spokesman Steve Smith:   "About 11:05 yesterday, we were notified via phone by an employee at the Albany JCC that they had received an email that was very vague, but it had some threatening language in it, including the word 'bomb,' so there were certainly a concern there, and they notified the police. We in turn had our officers respond to the buildings located on Whitehall Road. There are two buildings. There's the community center itself, and then attached which is directly next door is the daycare center. So our officers responded. Our K9 Officer who has a dog that is certified in detecting incendiary devices and bombs also responded, and he, because of the size of the building, requested the assistance of our law enforcement partners at the Troy police department and the Albany County Sheriff's, who also have dogs that serve in that capacity. The officers and their K9 partners were able to sweep that building and determine that there was no device inside either building or any threat to the public."

State police also assisted. The JCC was closed the rest of Sunday.

"I went there yesterday just to make sure everything was being done and under control, but also just to say, you know, I'm sorry. This is not who we are." ~ NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Cuomo’s office says similar threats were emailed to people with Jewish Community Center accounts at 18 other JCCs around the country. Smith had no further details concerning the threats, which are reportedly under FBI scrutiny.   "We increased patrols at the Jewish Community Center throughout the day, evening and overnight."

At the JCC Sunday, Cuomo condemned the incident and anti-Semitism. He discussed the latest Monday at the Capitol.  "We have no additional information. It was a threat that came in through email. These are very hard to track. We've had situations before where it comes from overseas but it's routed through a New York servers, or looks like it came through. So it is still ongoing. But it was a, look, just another ugly incident in a series of ugly incidents. I went there yesterday just to make sure everything was being done and under control, but also just to say, you know, I'm sorry. This is not who we are. And I speak for all the good people of New York when I say we're sorry and we're sorry you had to feel this. The Jewish community is such an important part of New York. It's still shocking to me that we could have these situations in New York."

Smith says the JCC reopened on schedule Monday morning.   "We also, this morning, as parents were dropping their kids off to the day care center, had patrols stationed right at the JCC to provide comfort and allow people to know that we are there so that they feel safe, and we'll be doing the same this afternoon as children are being picked up."

The JCC itself was unavailable for comment in time for this story.

Smith urges residents to be vigilant and call police if you observe suspicious activity.  In 2018, an American-Israeli teen in Israel was found guilty of sending 2,000 bomb threats to Jewish Community Centers (including the Albany JCC) as well as to schools, airports, shopping malls, hospitals, police stations, the Israeli embassy in the United States, and more.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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