MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – A homeless man was arrested Tuesday after police said he told a security guard that he was a member of the terrorist group Hamas and was attempting to bomb a Jewish school in Miami Beach.
According to an arrest report from the Miami Beach Police Department, officers said they were dispatched around 9:30 a.m. in regard to a suspicious male near the school’s campus.
Authorities said an armed school security guard was wearing a Yarmulke, a traditional head covering for people of Jewish faith, when he was standing by the outside gates located between the school and a nearby synagogue, and was approached by 42-year-old Alier Ojeda Salas.
Authorities said Ojeda Salas told the security guard that he belonged to Hamas and had C4 explosives in a plastic bag that he was holding.
When the security guard asked Ojeda Salas to repeat himself, he said, “I am with Hamas,” police said.
Ojeda Salas fled the area and was followed by the school security guard before being detained by authorities, according to the report.
“In fear for his safety and the safety of the children and congregants at school, the security guard alerted both the school and the synagogue of Ojeda Salas’ threat to plant a destructive device containing the explosive,” authorities said.
Students and staff were then moved to a safe space and a lockdown of the school was initiated.
Both the school and the synagogue “were disrupted as a result of the defendant’s threatening actions,” an arresting officer wrote in the report.
Authorities said based on the nature of Ojeda Salas’ threats, as well as the location and manner in which he approached the security guard, the suspect intentionally harassed and intimidated the security guard due to his Jewish heritage and attire.
Miami Beach police questioned the man throughout the day and said there is no active threat to the community.
But for Jewish residents who live in the area, they say in this day and age, you need to be vigilant.
“Honestly, I felt actually very unsettled for the first time in a community that has always been pleasant,” said Josh Abersera, who witnessed the incident.
“For someone to say they are with Hamas, and they have C4 is a major red flag,” said Christopher Beas, an officer with the Miami Beach Police Department.
Ojeda Salas was taken to the Miami Beach police station for questioning, but chose to not make any statement after being read his Miranda rights.
According to jail records, Ojeda Salas is facing felony charges of threatening to throw a bomb or discharge a destructive device for prejudice purposes, disturbing school/ religious assembles with prejudice purposes, harassing or intimidating religious based or ethnic heritage assembles and assault with prejudice against religious purposes.
As of Tuesday, he was being held on a magistrate hold at the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center.
Local 10 News is withholding the name and location of the school due to safety concerns from parents of students that attend the school.