(ABC) — A man accused of making at least eight threats against Jewish Community Centers was arrested by the FBI in St. Louis, Missouri, this morning.
The suspect, 31-year-old Juan Thompson, is accused of what federal prosecutors called a “campaign to harass and intimidate.” He’s charged in New York with cyberstalking a woman by communicating threats to JCCs in the woman’s name. Prosecutors said Thompson “appears to have made at least eight of the JCC threats as part of a sustained campaign to harass and intimidate” the woman after their romantic relationship ended.
The arrest comes after nearly 100 JCCs and schools nationwide received bomb threats this year in five separate waves. The most recent was on Feb. 27 when 21 bomb threats were called in to 13 JCCs and eight Jewish schools in Alabama, Delaware, Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Virginia, the JCC Association of North America said.
No bombs were found at any of the locations.
There have been 90 incidents this year at 73 locations in 30 states and one Canadian province, the JCC Association said. The FBI and the Justice Department’s civil rights division launched an investigation.
New York City Police Commissioner James O’Neill said, “The defendant caused havoc, expending hundreds of hours of police and law enforcement resources to respond and investigate these threats. We will continue to pursue those who pedal fear, making false claims about serious crimes.”
“I’m grateful for the collaboration between the NYPD detectives, FBI agents, and prosecutors whose cross-country investigation led to this morning’s arrest,” O’Neill said.
Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, told ABC News earlier this week that JCC threats created “terror” for the people evacuated from the facilities — including preschool children, the elderly and teenagers — as well as their family members.
“This is absolutely abnormal, and it is totally unacceptable that anyone, anywhere, at any time could be terrorized because of their faith,” he said.