OLATHE, Kan. – A Kansas City man made an appearance in Johnson County Court on Thursday, charged with making a criminal threat against Beth Shalom, a Jewish congregation in Overland Park.
FOX 4 was first to report the threat made on May 27 and the extra precautions that followed. Brian Wachter, 40, was arrested on June 22 and on Thursday, appeared before a judge via video conference, accused of threatening violence against Beth Shalom, 14200 Lamar Ave., and four people on the Jewish Community Campus.
The Johnson County District Attorney’s office charges Wachter with violating Kansas Statute 21-5415a by allegedly making the threat to “commit violence communicated with intent to place another in fear, or to cause the evacuation, lock down or disruption in regular, ongoing activities of any building, place of assembly or facility of transportation, or in reckless disregard of the risk of causing such fear or evacuation, lock down or disruption in regular, ongoing activities.” (Kansas Statute 21-5415a)
Blair Hawkins, Director of Security for the Jewish Community Center campus said the recent threat against the Jewish Community Center is unrelated to BrianWachter’s arrest.
“I was in the middle of teaching preschool camp, working with a group of toddlers, and the Rabbi informed me that there had been a security threat and that the building was on lock down and to just be aware of what was going,” Esty Perman, who works at Chabad preschool camp, said when FOX 4’s Melissa Stern spoke to her on Tuesday, June 14.
Members of the Jewish community say they take any threats very seriously, especially following recent events around the country and the Jewish Community Campus and Village Shalom shootings two years ago.
“Whenever something, like the shooting in Orlando, or any terror threats really, whether they happen locally or somewhere else, there’s nothing we can do about them. We can’t physically go fight the bad guys. The only thing we can do is increase in goodness and add more light to the world,” Perman said.
Wachter’s bond was set at $25,000 cash or surety and he was ordered to have a mental health evaluation prior to being released on bond. Look for more on Wachter on FOX 4 newscasts and fox4kc.com.
After the recent threat, Dr. Helene Lotman, the President and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Kansas City, sent out a letter online informing the public of the threat. Lotman said the situation has since been resolved, but emphasized the importance of vigilance and communication.
This morning our Jewish agencies became aware of a potential threat to the broader Kansas City Jewish community. Working in collaboration with law enforcement officials, immediate steps were taken by our Director of Community Security to secure our facilities. Law enforcement has since resolved the situation, and we continue to work with local and national officials to maintain a safe and secure community.
Our Jewish community facilities remain open with regular security protocols in place, and normal activities will continue as scheduled. Our No. 1 priority is the safety and security of our community, and we will continue to communicate with you as needed.
Thank you for your partnership in keeping our community safe—as always, if you see something of concern, please say something to a security officer or staff member.