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Connecticut JCC Receives Bomb Threat, 300 Summer Campers Evacuated

Three hundred campers and other young people were evacuated from the Jewish Community Center and sent home as investigators looked into a phoned bomb threat — and found there was no bomb.

The incident occurred Tuesday at the JCC, at 360 Amity Rd.

An anonymous caller began spouting antisemitic comments and made a threat about bombing the facility. The call came at a time when antisemitic incidents have been on the rise.

The JCC promptly evacuated the campus and notified authorities. Agents from the FBI and local and state police, along with bomb-sniffing dogs, arrived to check out the premises and confirm no explosives were present.

Jewish Federation CEO Judy Alperin and JCC Executive Director Scott Cohen sent out the following email afterwards to day camp families:

Dear Camp Families,

Safety, health, wellbeing and security of our campers and staff are our utmost priority.  We appreciate your cooperation today as we worked together to safely respond to a possible threat situation.

Around 10 am this morning, a call came into the welcome desk at the JCC. The person on the other end of the phone starting out with some anti-Semitic comments and also made a threat. Our staff is trained in such situations and has a checklist by the phone of actions to take if faced with a threatening phone call. Our staff member tried to get more information from the caller but was unsuccessful. When the caller hung up quickly our staff pressed the button that directly summons the Woodbridge Police. She immediately informed her supervisor and JCC staff quickly went about evacuating the building.  On the advice of the Woodbridge Police, JCC Day Camps were directed to clear the camp building.

Law enforcement including, FBI, and state and local authorities thoroughly searched the building and the entire campus. They used 3 canine units to check for any possible explosives. Authorities have cleared the area and deem that there is no threat on the campus. The FBI is working with the Woodbridge Police Department to investigate using our phone records and the testimony of our staff member.

We decided to keep the building closed for the balance of the day but will reopen tomorrow morning with all of our programs running on their usual schedules.

This afternoon we met with our entire staff team to review our protocols and responses as we are always seeking to improve.  Assisting in the call were two members of our security committee who shared advice and who also offered much praise for our staff response. 

While our year-round staff’s performance today was wonderful, many of them have experienced similar situations before.  But our camp staff team, several just graduating this year from camper to counselor, performed admirably.  I want to offer appreciation to Deb Kirshner, Alison Lurie and Sandy Horvath for providing the training and support that led to such commendable performance by our counselors and unit heads. 

We will continue to remain vigilant and keep you posted with any updates. It is our hope that we will avoid any further interruptions.  Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns.