There has been a recent rash of multiple courthouse bomb threats in several states over the past few months. The incidents appear to follow the same pattern – the calls, usually made by a male caller, begin coming into the courthouses, in succession, often by county alphabetical order. The caller claims that there is an explosive device located in the courthouse and then hangs up. Searches of the building fail to yield any devices.
The first incident occurred in Nebraska on November 2nd, where nine county courthouses received threats. The calls began at 11:02 a.m. and ended at 11:36 a.m. In each case, a male caller indicated there was an explosive device in the courthouse and the devices would begin going off in 17 minutes. Each of the courthouses was evacuated by local authorities, and no credible threats were found.
Eight courthouses in the state of Washington received similar calls on November 15th. A male caller began calling courthouses late in the afternoon, claiming that there were multiple explosive devices in the building. All eight courthouses receiving threats were evacuated and no devices were found.
Oregon was the next state targeted and this time the caller tripled the number of threats called in. On November 19th, 28 courthouses and a state office building received the same threatening calls, beginning at 2:30 p.m. and continuing for approximately an hour. As with Nebraska and Washington, no devices were found after evacuations and searches.
Thirty Tennessee courthouses and other government buildings were targeted on November 27th. The bomb threats were made against nine locations in western state counties — including the Memphis federal building — seven in middle Tennessee and 14 in eastern Tennessee. The state of Mississippi received 29 bomb threats on December 17th, including the Mississippi Supreme Court among those needing to be evacuated.
Authorities continue to investigate whether these incidents are connected. Although bomb threats may seem annoying, they must be handled properly to protect the safety of the people within the threatened facility. Emergency Film Group offers Bomb Threat, a DVD-based training package which teaches how to manage reports of bomb threats to minimize the disruption of activities, the elements of a bomb incident plan, carrying out searches and evacuations, and working with responding law enforcement. To learn more, read here.
Thirty Tennessee courthouses received bomb threats
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