BY SABRINE BRISMEUR
Students attending David Posnack’s Jewish Day School in Davie received an unwelcome surprise in the form of lockdown and evacuation after an unsubstantiated bomb threat was called in on Monday, officials said.
Liam Cohen, a student at the JCC, was at school when the incident occurred.
“I wasn’t afraid because I understood that the person threatening us wanted to instill fear in the Jewish community, and I did not want to give them what they wanted,” he said.
Less than ten minutes away from Cooper City High School, the Davie Jewish Community Center (JCC), which also serves as a K-12 college prep school, remained on lockdown before evacuating students. Younger students went to the Walgreens across the street, while older students waited in the parking lot of the nearby Cathedral of Pentecost. Parents were asked to pick up students as soon as possible.
“We were praying when the fire alarm went off,” Cohen said. “The school evacuated us into the parking lot before moving us to the [Pentecost] church down the street.”
Officials declared the bomb threat a hoax just before 12 and allowed remaining students and faculty to return to the school. No explosives were found at the school.
CCHS harbors a sizable Jewish population of students who were affected by the incident.
“I volunteer at the JCC during the summer and work with the little kids at the camp,” CCHS junior Danielle Siso said. “I’m Jewish, so when I heard I was really freaked out. I have a lot of friends who go there regularly and it’s nerve-wracking.”
Across the country, JCCs across 11 states received the messages as well, leaving the threat count at 31 in a single day.
“It’s honestly maddening to hear that a place that you used to go to school in was targeted,” junior Stav Sharoni said. “I grew up in that JCC. I attended pre-kindergarten through elementary school with the people who still go to school there. The fact that they were in danger breaks my heart.”
Since January, a series of bomb threats have occurred in waves across the United States and Canada, numbering to over 100 as of Monday. The callers — some distorted, some automated — left messages that indicated there was an explosive in the building. Officials say no bombs of any kind were found at any of the 22 other targeted JCCs.
On Friday, the FBI arrested a suspect by the name of Juan Thompson in St. Louis, Missouri. He was charged with cyberstalking and threatening the institutions. Thompson is expected to appear in court on Monday, but it is unknown if he was the culprit behind the calls at the Davie JCC.
“They were targeted all because of their beliefs and the holidays they celebrate, which scares me so much because those are my beliefs too,” Sharoni added.
The following Tuesday morning, the Davie JCC received another bogus bomb threat. The school was once again evacuated for two hours, but police gave the all-clear before noon. There have been no arrests following this second incident.