ST. LOUIS, Missouri- Authorities investigating recent bomb threats against Jewish institutions nationwide arrested a former journalist Friday morning and said he was behind at least some of the threats, describing them as part of the man’s campaign to harass a woman, according to a Washington Post report.
The arrest in St. Louis appears to be the first made in response to a recent wave of bomb threats at Jewish centers and schools across the country in recent days. Headstones also have been vandalized at Jewish cemeteries in Missouri, Pennsylvania and, most recently, upstate New York.
But officials said Friday that they don’t believe the suspect, Juan Thompson was behind all of the calls or the vandalism.
The bomb threats against Jewish centers and schools in January and February — including another string of such calls on Monday that evacuated schools in Maryland and Virginia, among other places — brought the total number of incidents to 100 across dozens of states, according to the Jewish Community Center Association of North America. The threatening behavior, arriving at a time of increased anxiety about anti-Semitism, has prompted frenzied evacuations and forced people to scramble from schools, offices and day-care facilities, sometimes pushing cribs carrying young children.
The FBI arrested Thompson on Friday morning in St. Louis, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York.
Thompson is a journalist who was fired from the Intercept, an investigative journalism website, for fabricating quotes and misleading colleagues to cover his tracks. In an editor’s note last year, the publication said Thompson had engaged in “a pattern of deception” and wrote that he created fake email accounts to impersonate people.
“We were horrified to learn this morning that Juan Thompson, a former employee of The Intercept, has been arrested in connection with bomb threats against the ADL and multiple Jewish Community Centers in addition to cyberstalking,” Charlotte Greensit, the Intercept’s managing editor, said in a statement Friday. “These actions are heinous and should be fully investigated and prosecuted.”