JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office investigated a suspicious package found inside the Etz Chaim Synagogue in Mandarin causing road closures along San Jose Boulevard for a period of time.
President of the synagogue, Dr. Scott Ackerman, said he spoke to a JSO officer who told him bomb squad was called out due to a suspicious package found inside the building.
Ackerman said San Jose Boulevard was shut down from Oak Bluff to Crown Point as JSO investigated. An all-clear was given around 11:20 a.m., he said.
“The police told me," Ackerman said. "Yeah, people were concerned of course.”
Dr. Scot Ackerman was out of town when he got a call about a suspicious package at Etz Chaim synagogue.
He appreciates that congregants observing Sabbath were vigilant and called police when they noticed something out of place.
“We try to be vigilant at the synagogue, and it’s not new, not necessarily since the Pittsburgh attacks, but we’ve been vigilant there ever since 9/11,” Dr. Ackerman said.
Dr. Ackerman says the synagogue works closely with JSO and the FBI to notify them of any threats.
That sense of security heightened after a mass shooting in Pittsburgh at the Tree of Life Synagogue killed eleven people and injured many others.
Etz Chaim Synagogue has additional security, including an off-duty police officer in the area—in case of an emergency like what happened Saturday morning.
“I think Jacksonville is great, the Jewish community in Jacksonville is strong and a cohesive part of this community. And thank God in Jacksonville, we don’t experience much in the ways of anti-Semitism.”
A JSO spokesperson Lt. Hacksund said police received a call about the suspicious item at around 9 a.m.
An off-duty officer notified dispatch about the suspicious package and the area was evacuated.
"We took extra safety precautionary steps to ensure the public's safety due to the proximity of the item to the synagogue on Sabbath day," JSO said.
San Jose Boulevard was shut down in northbound and southbound directions for a short period of time.
No suspicious items were located and no hazardous material was found. No threat to the community was discovered.