Courthouse buildings evacuated after bomb threats

May 26, 1994|By Bill Talbott | Bill Talbott,Sun Staff Writer

Two bomb threat calls prompted the evacuation of the Carroll County Courthouse buildings for more than two hours yesterday while bomb-sniffing dogs from three counties searched the facilities and found nothing.

Deputy Sheriff Sgt. Richard Bader, chief of courthouse security, said about 200 employees, visitors and prisoners were evacuated after the calls were received at 1:15 p.m. and 1:23 p.m. by employees in the District Court clerk's office and the Circuit Court administrative office.

Both buildings were reopened at 3:35 p.m., Sergeant Bader said.

He said the first call came from a female caller at a public pay telephone at a Westminster shopping center. The caller stated that three bombs had been planted in the courthouse, one on each floor, and were set to go off between 1:30 and 4 p.m.

The second caller, believed to be the same woman, said three bombs were in the building and would go off between 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.

Sergeant Bader, who was conducting a class for the Sheriff's Department in the courthouse annex, said that since two buildings are used for court hearings and the caller did not specify buildings, both were evacuated.

Three K-9 dogs and their handlers were called to search the buildings.

Howard County Deputy Sgt. Ron Esworthy and his dog, Rebel, searched the old courthouse, and Baltimore County Deputy Scott Childs and his dog, Joey, searched the Department of Education administrative offices in the courthouse annex.

Westminster police Sgt. Steve Shatzer and his dog, Blonka, searched the courtrooms, which were in session when the bomb threats were received, and the court administration offices in the annex, Sergeant Bader said.

When Carroll sheriff's deputies spread the word to evacuate the buildings, supervisors instructed their staffs to return in about two hours, and the surrounding parking lots immediately emptied.

After both buildings were searched and nothing was found, they were reopened.

Seven minutes later, a District Court clerk received another call, from a woman who said, "I told you there was a bomb in the building. Now get out."

Sergeant Bader said the building was not evacuated a second time.

A similar bomb threat March 10 prompted the evacuation of the same buildings for about 2 1/2 hours while dogs searched for bombs. None was found.

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