UPDATE: Michael Sanchez, who is accused of threatening to kill worshippers at a Las Vegas synagogue, complained to a judge during his court appearance on Wednesday. He claims “false information” is “being presented on both sides about my issues.”
He also called evidence in his case “alleged threats,” the Associated Press reported. Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Amy Chelini increased 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 on Wednesday. The suspect remains in custody.
Michael Sanchez in a mug shot. He was arrested for allegedly phoning in a mass shooting threat to a Las Vegas synagogue. (Image: LVMPD)
The synagogue, Chabad of Southern Nevada, received a phone threat from the suspect, Michael Sanchez, 37, of Las Vegas, on Sunday. Sanchez warned that he was “going to come shoot the synagogue.” The synagogue is located about three miles west of the Strat and the Palace Station casinos, KLAS, a local TV station, reported.
Sanchez 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).
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 in that incident.
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. Concerns about violence against Jews have been voiced by many Jewish leaders nationally.
He initially appeared in Las Vegas Justice Court on Tuesday. Las Vegas Judge Rebecca Saxe set bail at $20K. 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 in Iraq. It is unclear if he suffers from psychological disorders because of his military experiences.
FBI, Counterterrorism Called in
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 that he was “displaying signs of paranoia,” KVVU, a local TV station, reported from the police report.
“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.
Anti-Semitism Increasing: Report
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) recently released a national survey that showed an increasing number of Americans believe in “anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and tropes.”
According to the survey, 39% of respondents believe that Jews are more loyal to Israel than they are to the US. Some 20% say Jews have “too much power” in the US. Some 21% agree that Jews “don’t care about anyone other than themselves.” And 53% say that Jews will go out of their way to hire other Jews.
The number of respondents who held these beliefs was 20% of those questioned. That’s twice the 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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