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"Unfounded" threat against Pittsburgh synagogue under investigation

"Unfounded" threat against Pittsburgh synagogue under investigation
"Unfounded" threat against Pittsburgh synagogue under investigation 02:21

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- There will be heightened security at Pittsburgh synagogues after an "unfounded" threat, officials said on Thursday. 

Pittsburgh police said they're investigating a reported online threat made against a synagogue, though police did not say which one. At this time, police said the threat doesn't appear credible. 

Officers checked and secured "all of the synagogues" and will maintain a presence, Pittsburgh Public Safety said on X, formerly known as Twitter. 

Police have a lead on an IP address and the investigation is ongoing. Investigators didn't release any other details. 

KDKA-TV's Meghan Schiller talked with the head of security at the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh about the threat. She said in this day and age, you need to treat every threat as the real thing, but investigators quickly determined Thursday's threat was a hoax.

"The very first thing we do is look at the threat and vet it out as fast as possible to determine if it's credible or not credible, and then the third piece of that, what we do is communication to make sure all of our organizations know that there is a threat out there," said Shawn Brokos, the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh's director of community security.

The threat comes about a month after the Pittsburgh Jewish community marked five years since the deadliest antisemitic attack in U.S. history at the Tree of Life synagogue in Squirrel Hill. A gunman, who was convicted and sentenced to death earlier this year, opened fire and killed 11 worshippers. 

"The trial ended this summer, people were finally coming up for air and saying 'okay, we're ready to start a new chapter' and collectively breathe a sigh of relief. And then, weeks later, we started the war and we've gone right back into that heightened state of awareness and vigilance that we're hoping would subside. So, I think, from a community perspective, it's certainly a very difficult time," said Brokos.

Brokos told KDKA security heightened in early October because of the start of the Israel and Hamas war and now the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh is fielding a surge of antisemitic threats. 

"So, we track any threats or incidents reported to us. And right now, year to date, we're at about 280. And just to put that in perspective, last year for the entire year, we saw 122 incidents reported to us. So we're well above that," said Brokos.

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