By: Daniel Perreault
MAITLAND, Fla– The Jewish Community Center of Greater Orlando was evacuated Tuesday after a bomb threat was called in to the school.
The threat was phoned in to the Jewish Academy of Orlando which is connected to the JCC. According to Police, just before 10 AM, a man with a robotic voice called and claimed that an explosive had been placed within the school to “take out a lot of children.”
School officials immediately notified local authorities and minutes later a flood of Maitland Police and fire personnel along with other law enforcement agencies descended upon the school’s campus. After both the JCC and Jewish Academy were evacuated, students walked a short distance to Lake Sybelia Elementary which was under a lock down during the incident.
There, tearful and breathless parents who had been on pins an needles since receiving a phone call about an “Emergency Situation” at the school earlier in the day, were reunited with their children.
An extensive search of the JCC campus by bomb sniffing dogs failed to yield any explosives and Police gave the all-clear around 12:40 PM ET.
Scenes like this however, did not just play out in Maitland. Police confirm that two additional Jewish schools in Palm Beach Gardens and Tampa were also evacuated today. While it is unclear if the three are connected, authorities say that all three schools received bomb threats over the phone and described the calls as “very similar.”
The JCC remained closed Tuesday afternoon but in a statement posted to it’s Facebook page, Executive Director David Wayne praised the Maitland Police for their “diligence and resources,” recognized the teachers and staff for doing an “outstanding job calmly reassuring the children, while ensuring their absolute safety,” and thanked the community for their “understanding and assistance in handling today’s difficult situation.”
The JCC will re-open for it’s normal business hours tomorrow.