A man who allegedly threatened a mass shooting at a Las Vegas synagogue was scheduled to appear in court on Wednesday. The suspect remains in custody.
The synagogue, Chabad of Southern Nevada, received a phone threat from the suspect on Sunday. The caller warned that he was “going to come shoot the synagogue,” KLAS, a local TV station, reported.
The caller also claimed the rabbi and the worshippers at the synagogue were “child molesters and killers,” according to a report from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD).
The call was made on a phone listed to Michael Sanchez, 37, of Las Vegas, police revealed.
During the course of his rant, Sanchez allegedly noted the deadly shooting in 2019 at the Chabad of Poway synagogue in California. One person died and several were wounded at that incident.
The synagogue’s rabbi contacted the FBI. The FBI contacted the Southern Nevada Counterterrorism Center and the LVMPD. FBI agents alerted them about the incident.
LVMPD officers quickly went to Sanchez’s residence. “Upon seeing officers, Sanchez immediately advised them that he knew they were there because the ‘Jews’ had sent him,” according to a police report. He also claimed that “the Jews and police were after him.”
It was also determined that Sanchez had made prior recent threatening calls to another local synagogue, police said.
Sanchez was charged on Sunday with making threats or conveying false information concerning acts of terrorism. If convicted of the charge, he could face years in prison.
He initially appeared in Las Vegas Justice Court on Tuesday. Las Vegas Judge Rebecca Saxe set bail at $20,000. He was in custody as of Wednesday morning at the Clark County Detention Center, according to online jail records.
It was revealed that Sanchez served in the US Army. He was deployed twice in Iraq. It is unclear if he suffers from psychological disorders due to the military experiences.
As LVMPD officers spoke with Sanchez, they came to see that he was “displaying signs of paranoia,” KVVU, a local TV station, reported from the police report.
He was reluctant to tell police about his family, too.
The synagogue is located about three miles west of the Strat and the Palace Station casinos.
Concerns about violence against Jews have been voiced by many Jewish leaders nationally.
Last month, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) released a national survey which showed that an increasing number of Americans believed in “anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and tropes.”
For instance, 39 percent of respondents believed that Jews are more loyal to Israel than the US; 20 percent say Jews have “too much power” in the US; 21 percent agree that Jews “don’t care about anyone other than themselves;” and 53 percent say that Jews will go out of their way to hire other Jews.
The number who held these beliefs were 20 percent of those questioned. That is twice number seen in a 2019 survey.
More than 4,000 people took part in the recent survey.
“From Pittsburgh to Charlottesville to the near-daily harassment of Jews in our greatest cities, anti-Semitic beliefs lead to violence,” Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL’s CEO, said in a statement released last month. “I hope this survey is a wake-up call to the entire country.”
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