Police evacuated a Jewish community centre in Toronto’s Annex neighbourhood after a bomb threat Tuesday morning, amid reports of similar threats in London, Ont. and across the United States.
Toronto police responded to a call of a suspicious incident at the Downtown Community Jewish School, located inside the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre at 750 Spadina Ave., just after 10 a.m. Tuesday.
Const. Victor Kwong said the school received a threatening phone call and the Toronto police CBRN (Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear) unit investigated on scene for two hours but found nothing suspicious.
WATCH: Bomb threat forces evacuation of downtown Toronto Jewish community centre. Ashley Carter reports.
Police evacuated the community centre, which also houses a daycare, out of an “abundance of caution” while TTC buses provided shelter on scene.
The Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre said in a tweet they had reopened to the public just after 12:30 p.m.
“We have received the all clear,” the centre tweeted. “Thank you police and fire departments for their immediate and thorough response.”
Toronto Mayor John Tory said he was “heartened” by the fact everyone was evacuated from the centre safely and that police responded so quickly.
“But I’m deeply saddened by the fact that this would happen here and in other parts of North America,” he said. “It’s clearly part of some deranged pattern of anti-Semitic behaviour.”
He added that Toronto residents “completely reject that way of thinking” and that it is not welcome in the city.
“We don’t divide each other on those lines or any other lines,” Tory said. “So I hope today’s a reminder that we have to be ever-vigilant about those sorts of things.”
A similar incident was reported in London around the same time Tuesday morning.
London police responded to the Jewish Community Centre and Village Apartments, located near Huron Street and Adelaide Street North, around 10 a.m.
Const. Matthew Dawson told AM980 the centre received a bomb threat from an “unknown person” and evacuated roughly 120 people from the community centre, daycare and adjacent apartments.
Tuesday’s bomb threat is the second at the London community centre since January. Nothing suspicious was found in either incident.
President of the London Jewish Federation, Terry Marcus, said the incident in London was similar to threats received in Toronto and the U.S.
“It’s very disappointing that this is happening in all communities and to all people of different religions,” he told AM980.
“We have our protocols in place, we ensured the safety of all of our individuals in the building, and we continue to go with our programs and our lives.”
The Anti-Defamation League and several Jewish community centres across the U.S. received a new round of bomb threats Tuesday, adding to the scores they have been plagued with since January.
New York Police Department Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said there were five threats in New York City on Tuesday morning, including to the Anti-Defamation League, which also received threats to offices in Atlanta, Boston and Washington, D.C.
The JCC Association of North America said several Jewish community centres received email or phone threats overnight and early Tuesday, but didn’t specify how many. Two suburban Jewish community centres in upstate New York were shut down when someone phoned in bomb threats, authorities said.
“JCC Association of North America confirms a developing situation in which several JCCs have received either emailed or phoned-in bomb threats overnight and this morning,” the association said in a statement.
“We will follow up with more information as it becomes available.”
The Anti-Defamation League said threats were also made in Oregon, Wisconsin, Illinois, Florida and Maryland.
Federal officials have investigated more than 120 threats against Jewish organizations in three dozen states since Jan. 9 and a rash of vandalism at Jewish cemeteries. None of the threats have resulted in physical injury.
With files from AM980’s Jacquelyn LeBel and The Associated Press