Bomb Hoax Possibly A Hate Crime, Says FBI

Monday, March 26th 2007, 5:00 pm
By: News On 6

A bomb scare in Muskogee might have been intended as a prank, but the police and the FBI say they consider it a serious crime. Police say it looked like, and had most of the elements of a bomb. The News On 6’s Emory Bryan reports what police don't know is who put it there, or exactly what it was meant to do.

A package that police say appeared to be a bomb was found outside a Jewish temple in Muskogee Saturday night. It was inside a shopping cart pushed up against the Temple Beth Ahaba.

The bomb squad from the Oklahoma Highway Patrol examined the device with a robot and dismantled it at the scene. The components were taken for analysis by the FBI.

"This one was fairly sophisticated because it had a timing device and leads and other things indicative of a real bomb," said Muskogee Chief of Police Rex Eskridge.

The FBI now calls what was found "a potentially explosive device" and says it's a possible hate crime or act of terrorism. They won't say at this point whether or not it was something that could have exploded.

The Temple Beth Ahaba is the home of a very small Jewish congregation. Since many of them are elderly and disabled, they rarely use the building for services. The Jewish congregation in Muskogee tells The News On 6 they haven't had any problem around their building except one, graffiti on the door which appears to be the old Nazi "SS" symbol. The graffiti helped create some of the concern Saturday night, but it's actually been on the door for some time.

The police chief says regardless of what might have happened, it's already far beyond the level of a prank.

"It's still a viscous act, I think, it terms of what message it's sending and what it was attempting to do," Eskridge said.

Authorities say there was no known threat against the Temple. The police say they have no suspects, but have questioned the man who reported it, because it would be unusual for someone to be in the alley at that time of day.

Related Stories:

3/24/2007 - OHP Bomb Squad Called To Jewish Temple

3/25/2007 - Investigation Into Suspicious Device Outside Synagogue Continues