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JewishJournal.com

December 18, 2012

BREAKING: LAPD investigating bomb threat near Wilshire Boulevard Temple

http://www.jewishjournal.com/los_angeles/article/lapd_investigating_bomb_threat_near_wilshire_blvd._temple

LAPD BatCat next to an LAPD squad car which in under investigation following a bomb scare early this morning. Photo by Ryan Smith

LAPD BatCat next to an LAPD squad car which in under investigation following a bomb scare early this morning. Photo by Ryan Smith

[UPDATE: 5:00 pm] Suspect in custody in bomb threat investigation, says Wilshire Blvd. Temple statement.

MORE ON THIS STORY: Wilshire Blvd. Temple target of bomb threats

[UPDATE: 2:45 pm] "[The vehicle] was rendered safe. No device was found in or around the vehicle," said police spokesman Sgt. Rudy Lopez.

The investigation is ongoing as LAPD seeks to identify who placed the bomb threat early this morning. There are "minimal leads," Lopez said.

The LAPD BatCat vehicle, with the squad car held midair on its lifting mechanism, will remain near the intersection of Wilshire Blvd. and Harvard Blvd. for approximately another hour, Lopez said.

Most of the streets around Wilshire Blvd. Temple have reopened. 

[UPDATE: 2:10 pm] The squad car under investigation was moved by the LAPD BatCat vehicle.

[UPDATE: 1:50 pm] LAPD officer has approached the squad car and is inspecting the vehicle.

[UPDATE: 1:30 pm] Loud boom as the trunk of the squad car flew open. LAPD Robot inspecting vehicle.

[UPDATE 1:00 pm] Statement from Wilshire Blvd. Temple.

Both bomb threat calls came from a pay phone. It was a male voice.

[UPDATE 12:33 pm] The investigation will take another hour and a half, Sgt. Lopez said.

The LAPD vehicle under investigation has been parked on Harvard Blvd. for several days. It was part of a crime preventitive system in which cars are planted in areas to deter crime.

About 30 to 40 residents have been evacuated as a precaution.

[UPDATE 12:17 pm] Bomb squad robot is investigating the underside of the LAPD squad car that is being lifted by an LAPD BatCat vehicle.

Screenshot from KTLA 5

[UPDATE 12:06 pm] An LAPD BatCat unit has now deployed by the suspicious LAPD squad car outside Wilshire Blvd. Temple in mid-Wilshire.  The black fire engine-sized vehicle is using a front fork to lift the LAPD vehicle.

[UPDATE 11:30 am] Bomb squad robot has removed an object from underneath the LAPD squad car near Wilshire Blvd. Temple.

[UPDATE 11:19 am]  A loud bang as the LAPD robotics unit shot out the windows of the LAPD squad car suspected of harboring an explosive device.  LAPD canine  units are now being deployed to search for any “secondary threats,” according to Sgt. Rudy Lopez.  A robotics team is still investigating the LAPD car parked on Harvard St. between 6th and Wilshire Blvd

[UPDATE 11:00 am] The robotic unit is now moving toward the police car that LAPD suspect of harboring an explosive device.

[10:15 am] LAPD units on the scene at Wilshire Blvd. Temple‘s Koreatown synagogue are deploying bomb disposal units and robotic devices “to assess the situation” following a series of three bomb threats.

Wilshire Temple

Wilshire Blvd. Temple which received a bomb threat early in the morning on Dec. 18. Photo by Lynn Pelkey

Police spokesman Sgt. Rudy Lopez told the Jewish Journal at 10:15 a.m. the investigation should take about two hours.

At 2 a.m. a caller to LAPD headquarters claimed to have planted an explosive device on the grounds of the temple, one of Los Angeles’s largest. An initial search failed to turn up anything suspicious.

[Follow @jewishjournal on Twitter for more updates]

In a subsequent call at 8 am the caller self-reported that the device had been planted in a police vehicle nearby.  Wilshire Blvd. Temple and its adjacent school and parking lot take up an entire block between Wilshire Blvd. and 6th street and Harvard and Hobart.

Police have zeroed in on an LAPD squad car parked on Hobart Ave. between 6th and Wilshire.

At 11 am Wilshire Blvd. Temple issued this statement:  "The LAPD is fully investigating a bomb threat made earlier today. Out of an abundance of caution, we cancelled all activities at the Temple located in the mid-Wilshire district. The building is empty. Our security team is assisting the LAPD, and we will continue to keep the community informed."

Cory Wenter, director of security for Wilshire Blvd. Temple, told the Jewish Journal that after the 2 am call the Temple used its mass notification system and cancelled all activities.  The Temple has a nursery school , elementary school and charter school on the mid-Wilshire campus, witha  combined total of 600 students.

Life is going on as normal at the Temple's West LA campus at Wilshire and Barrington Ave, said Wenter.

Sgt. Lopez said police have evacuated residents in nearby apartments.

The area around the Temple has been cordoned off with yellow tape.  A police helicopter is circling overhead  and LAPD units have blocked access to all neighboring streets.

Lopez told the Journal there is no evidence the threat is connected to or inspired by the school shooting in Newtown, CT.

The Jewish Journal will post regular updates in this space.

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