Area courthouses targeted by hoax bomb threats

Published 9:12 pm Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Apparent hoax bomb threats forced evacuations at courthouses across the state Wednesday afternoon, including the courthouses in Franklin and Copiah counties.

     Bomb squads subsequently deemed both courthouses safe and both facilities were open and conducting business as usual Thursday.

     The threats in Franklin and Copiah counties were among what the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency said were similar threats in 29 of the state’s 82 counties. Most of the calls came between 1:30 and 3 p.m., officials said.

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     Franklin County Sheriff James Newman confirmed the courthouse in Meadville was evacuated at approximately 2 p.m. Wednesday after a threatening phone call.

     “An anonymous call came into the circuit clerk’s office that said there were bombs in the Franklin County courthouse,” Newman said.

     A bomb squad with the Mississippi Highway Patrol checked the building and left at about 2:45 p.m. Wednesday.

     “They said the courthouse is secure,” Newman said. “They gave us a clean check.”

     Copiah County Sheriff Harold Jones estimated the courthouse in Hazlehurst received a threat about 1:30 p.m. and was cleared at 2:30 p.m.

     An official with the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office confirmed no such threats had been received in Brookhaven. Lawrence County Sheriff Joel Thames likewise said there’d been no bomb scare in his county.

     Elsewhere in the region, counties with confirmed bombs threats included Claiborne, Hinds, Jefferson Davis, Jones and Wilkinson counties.

     In Franklin County, court proceedings had finished at noon Wednesday, Newman said.

     “I was wondering if this had anything to do with something going on at court,” Newman said.

     However, the sheriff said news of bomb threats elsewhere in the state dispelled these suspicions.

     “We feel like in all probability this is a prank, but we’re being safe about it,” Newman said.