FBI investigating Tree of Life synagogue hoax bomb threat

The FBI and Pittsburgh police on Wednesday were investigating a phony bomb threat sent to the Tree of Life synagogue, which was the scene of an antisemitic mass shooting that left 11 people dead.

The threat came via email Tuesday morning, city police spokesperson Cara Cruz told NBC News. She noted that it “was very quickly determined to be a hoax” and confirmed an investigation into the matter has since been launched.

On Oct. 27, 2018, Robert Bowers burst into the Tree of Life Synagogue, located in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood, and opened fire on congregants gathered together for sabbath services. He shouted things like “All Jews must die” as he rampaged through the house of worship, and then he attempted to flee.

Bowers’ escape attempt however, was ultimately unsuccessful — he was shot several times by responding officers and arrested on the scene. He was charged with 63 federal crimes, including hate crimes. A jury later found him guilty on all counts. In August, the mass murderer was sentenced to death by lethal injection.

It is the deadliest attack on a Jewish community in the U.S.

Pittsburgh authorities declined Wednesday to provide specifics about the threat, but Cruz emphasized it was “a hoax in line with other similar threats against synagogues around the country.”

In April, the Anti-Defamation League said bomb threats made against Jewish institutions in the U.S. increased “dramatically” last year compared to 2022. According to the ADL, there were 1,009 antisemitic bomb threats last year, 906 of which targeted synagogues.