City Statement on Bomb Threat Incident
Feb 28, 2017 - Last night, the Mercer Island Police Department (MIPD) responded to a bomb threat at Mercer Island’s Stroum Jewish Community Center (SJCC), helping evacuate 250 individuals to safety and orderly reunification. Students at the nearby French American School were also evacuated as a precaution.
Just as in other similar incidents currently occurring nationwide, subsequent searches revealed no suspicious items. Due to the nature of these threats, the FBI is treating this case as a hate crime.
Over recent months, the City has been working closely with both community facilities to plan for unfortunate episodes like last night, and continues to maintain very close contact with all educational organizations on the Island. Prior training by the City’s emergency staff was directly applicable in this incident, and the City opened its Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to coordinate the response.
“While I am so relieved this seems to be a hoax and that everyone was safely evacuated, I cannot emphasize enough how appalled we are by the perpetrators of what seems to be domestic terrorism,” said Debbie Bertlin, Mercer Island’s Deputy Mayor.
“Last fall, the City Council issued a Proclamation on civility and diversity, underscoring our role in bringing people together and not dividing them. The principles we enumerated are even more appropriate today. We continue to welcome all people of all faiths, in recognition that we truly are stronger and smarter together.”
[The Proclamation can be viewed at: http://www.mercergov.org/News.asp?NewsID=2099]
As is customary in such incidents, the MIPD will continue to maintain a visible presence onsite in the days ahead. “We want to reassure all of our families, members and the broader community that their ongoing safety is paramount,” said Amy Lavin, CEO of the SJCC. “At the same time, we will not surrender to such efforts designed to induce fear. Our community’s steadfast support has been heartening and together we will rise above this.”
The SJCC remains open on its normal schedule.
“Safety has always been our number one priority," said Eric Thuau, Head of the French American School of Puget Sound. "The SJCC, Herzl-Ner Tamid, City Police and Fire Departments and our school have been working together for a while now in coordinating our security efforts. Yesterday’s event and our efficient reaction has shown how important it is to continue to cooperate closely with our neighbors and the authorities."
The City’s Department of Youth and Family Services has mental health counselors and resources available to those seeking their services. Call (206) 275-7611.