Las Vegas Synagogue Threatened With Mass Shooting, Suspect Arrested
Posted on: February 2, 2023, 11:28 am.
Last updated on: February 2, 2023, 12:00 p.m.
UPDATE: Michael Sanchez, who is accused of threatening to kill worshipers at a Las Vegas synagogue, pleaded guilty to a judge during his court appearance Wednesday. He claims that “false information” is being “put forward by both sides about my issues”.
He also called the evidence in his case “alleged threats,” the Associated Press reported. Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Amy Chelini raised his bail from $20,000 to $100,000. He remained in custody on Thursday.
Earlier: A man who allegedly threatened a mass shooting at a Las Vegas synagogue was scheduled to appear in court Wednesday. The suspect remains in custody.
Michael Sanchez in a mug shot. He was arrested after allegedly calling in a mass shooting threat at a Las Vegas synagogue. (Image: LVMPD)
The synagogue, Chabad of Southern Nevada, received a threatening phone call from the suspect, Michael Sanchez, 37, of Las Vegas, on Sunday. Sanchez warned that he would “come to shoot the synagogue.” The synagogue is located about three miles west of the Strat and Palace Station casinos, KLAS, a local television station, reported.
Sanchez also alleged that the rabbi and worshipers at the synagogue were “child molesters and murderers,” according to a report from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD).
During the course of his speech, Sanchez allegedly referenced the 2019 deadly shooting at the Chabad of Poway synagogue in California. One person lost his life and several were injured in this incident.
Sanchez was charged on Sunday with making threats or passing on false information about acts of terrorism. If convicted of the charge, he could face years in prison. Concerns about violence against Jews have been expressed by many Jewish leaders at the national level.
He first 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.
Sanchez served in the US Army. He was deployed twice to Iraq. It is unclear whether he suffers from psychological disorders due to his military experiences.
The FBI is called in against terrorism
The synagogue’s rabbi immediately contacted the FBI after speaking with Sanchez. The FBI then contacted the Southern Nevada Counterterrorism Center and the LVMPD.
LVMPD officers quickly went to Sanchez’s residence. As officers spoke with Sanchez, they saw him “showing signs of paranoia,” KVVU, a local television station, reported from the police report.
“Upon seeing the 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 the police were after him”.
It was also determined that Sanchez had made prior threatening calls to another local synagogue, police said.
Antisemitism on the Rise: Report
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) recently released a national poll showing that a growing number of Americans believe in “anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and tropes.”
According to the poll, 39% of respondents believe that Jews are more loyal to Israel than to the US. About 20% say Jews have “too much power” in the US. About 21% agree that Jews “don’t care about anyone but themselves.” And 53% say Jews will go out of their way to hire other Jews.
The number of respondents who held these beliefs was 20% of respondents. That’s double the first number in a 2019 survey. More than 4,000 people took part in the latest survey.
“From Pittsburgh to Charlottesville to the almost daily harassment of Jews in our largest cities, anti-Semitic beliefs lead to violence,” said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, CEO of the ADL in a statement released last month. “I hope this poll will be a wake-up call for the whole country.”