Bomb Threat Phoned In Forces Evacuation of Flagler County Courthouse; All-Clear at 4:30p
FlaglerLive | March 28, 2014
Last Updated: 5:55 p.m.
A bomb threat called in around 12:30 this afternoon forced the evacuation of the Flagler County Courthouse.
The building remained evacuated until 4:30 p.m., with personnel either in the Government Services Building or in the parking lot of the building. Some of the courthouse personnel huddled with about a dozen Flagler County Sheriff’s deputies at the northeastern extremity of the courthouse parking lot.
The all-clear went out at 4:30, according to Paula Priester, a sheriff’s spokeswoman, but since the day was mostly over, employees did not have to go back to work: the building was closed for the weekend.
At 2:30 p.m. this afternoon, Undersheriff Rick Staly said that the bomb threat was called into the clerk of court’s office. The person “said there was a bomb in the building. We have to take it as an accurate, legitimate threat,” Staly said.
The St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office’s bomb squad was on stand-by as a precaution. Two of its bomb-sniffing dogs arrived at the courthouse. One sniffed sniffing for threats on the outside of the building. Another went through the building.
Flagler Sheriff’s deputies had been inside, checking for anything out of place, Staly said. But most of the deputies on scene were part of a training squad, so that other deputies on their regular beats are not pulled away. There’s a reason for that, Staly said. In his experience, he said, threats are often called as diversionary tactics. Deputies elsewhere in the county are checking on such possibilities.
“We did not deplete the patrol,” Staly said.”We’ve stepped up our patrols in the rest of the county where there would likely be targets if it was a diversionary tactic.”
In late afternoon, Priester said no unusual activity was detected elsewhere in the county. “It appears that it was an isolated incident,” she said, noting that this was the first time the courthouse was evacuated under such circumstances since it opened about a decade ago.
Staly said the sheriff’s office has leads on who may have called in the threat, and detectives are on the case, but he cannot reveal further information. It is a felony to call in a false threat.
The courthouse had a light day today–no high-profile hearings or cases.
Foot or vehicular traffic into the courthouse parking lot is closed. So is the main entrance to the parking lot off of State Road 100.
There appears to be little urgency around the building, with employees chatting in groups, talking on their cell phones and waiting.
Staly had urged residents who may have had business at the courthouse or at the GSB to stay away from both areas for the rest of the day to diminish traffic issues.
The undersheriff said he expected the issue to be resolved in the next few hours–as it was–but it was up the Circuit Court Judge Dennis Craig and Clerk of Court Gail Wadsworth as to how and whether to resume the workday.
Speaking to WNZF, Wadsworth said that because of Friday’s incident, all Friday deadlines for the filing of court papers will be extended to Tuesday. “So those people who had a traffic citation to pay, or a court paper to file before the end of business today, will be given until the end of business Tuesday to do so, with no penalty,” Wadsworth said.