The FBI has launched an investigation into possible civil rights violations in connection with threats made to Jewish Community Centers in San Diego and across the country.
The Lawrence Family JCC was evacuated early Tuesday following a threat, San Diego police confirmed.
At the same time, there were at least 17 similar threats made to JCC buildings across the U.S.
The center in La Jolla called police just before 9 a.m. reporting the threat. Officers responded and moved people from the center to nearby La Jolla Country Day as a precaution.
The center typically has preschool, senior activities, fitness center activity and meetings going on that time of day.
At the time, parents had just been dropping their children off for pre-school.
"As soon as I got the message over the PA system, I literally grabbed him and ran out," said parent Chloe Reitherman.
One evacuee described the incident as not a huge surprise.
"I think we weren't terribly surprised because we were kind of kept up to date on the condition around the country, that there were several other centers that have had terror threats," said evacuee Honey Doublebower.
Officers swept the La Jolla JCC campus and reopened it just before 11 a.m.
"I don't think any of us feel terrified or as you can see from the kids, they're all calm and content. So I'm just grateful that they know how to handle this in an appropriate manner," said parent Jayde Elmaleh.
“While this threat is being investigated, we continue to take numerous security measures to ensure the safety of our members and guests,” Executive Director Michael Cohen said.
JCC buildings in New Haven, Conn., Boulder, Colo., and Albany, N.Y. were also evacuated due to threats early Tuesday, according to news reports in those cities.
While FBI investigators refused to comment on Tuesday's threat in La Jolla, they said it is one of several similar threats made across the U.S.
"The FBI and the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division are investigating possible civil rights violations in connection with threats to Jewish Community Centers here in San Diego and across the country," the agency said in a written statement. "The FBI will collect all available facts and evidence, and will ensure this matter is investigated in a fair, thorough, and impartial manner."