APD: Jewish synagogue in NE Albuquerque evacuated after bomb threat

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – People at a Jewish place of worship had to evacuate after a bomb threat Saturday.

It took police a couple of hours to clear the synagogue near Lomas and Jefferson Saturday. 

Officers blocked off roads for nearly four hours while APD’s Bomb Squad searched the building, looking for any type of explosive device.

Police did not find any evidence of a bomb and safely reopened the area.

An APD spokesperson says the threat was first reported by an operator at the New Mexico Crisis Hotline.

An unidentified man was reportedly messaging that operator and said he was inside the synagogue with a bomb in a backpack, and that the bomb was set to go off at a certain time.

APD leaders say officers arrived on scene as the building was being evacuated. 

“Our bomb squad came out to the scene, assured no one was in there. They did locate a suspicious backpack inside the building, so they took their time, and did what they usually do with the bomb unit. They determined that there were no explosives in the backpack,” said APD Spokesperson Gilbert Gallegos. 

APD leaders revealed that backpack was actually a medic bag and there was nothing suspicious inside it.

A rabbi also told police they did not see anyone else inside the synagogue as they evacuated.

Police leaders revealed the suspect did express negative emotions about Israel and the ongoing conflict in the Middle East while messaging the hotline operator. 

But they say investigators are not making any assumptions about a potential motive or whether or not this incident was a hoax.

“We want to take these calls very seriously. So in that vein, we did reach out, our area commanders reached out to other Jewish synagogues throughout the city. As you know, we’ve been stepping up patrols and keeping an eye on them. We wanted to let them know about the situation here and see if anything else suspicious was going on at their synagogues, and there have been no other reports at this point,” said Gallegos. 

APD leaders added this is the first reported threat against a local synagogue or Jewish organization since violence broke out in the Middle East.

Synagogues in Utah, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and North Carolina have all been evacuated for reported bomb threats in recent weeks.

On Saturday, the president of a Detroit synagogue was found stabbed to death outside of her home.

Local police have not identified any suspects of if there is evidence of a politically-charged motive.

Albuquerque police are asking anyone with information about today’s bomb threat to give them a call at 242-COPS.