Bomb threats prompt evacuations of government buildings in several states, but no explosives found

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Police dogs sniff the outside of the Pulaski County courthouse in downtown Little Rock, Ark., on Thursday, Jan. 4, 2024. The courthouse was evacuated after a bomb threat was received, and police allowed the public to re-enter later that morning. The evacuation delayed the start of a court hearing in the legal fight between the state Board of Corrections and Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders over who runs the state prison system. (AP Photo/Andrew DeMillo)

JACKSON, Miss (AP) — Government buildings in several states were evacuated Thursday following bomb threats, causing brief disruptions for the second day in a row in some places.

The Mississippi Capitol and courthouses in Arkansas, Hawaii, Maine, Montana and New Hampshire were evacuated or searched, but no explosives were immediately found, and the buildings were reopened to the public.

The latest round of evacuations comes after an emailed threat to officials in several states prompted lockdowns at multiple state capitols Wednesday. The threats also follow a spate of false reports of shootings at the homes of public officials in recent days.

In Jackson, Mississippi, officials said the state Supreme Court, which is across the street from the state Capitol building, received a bomb threat. Bomb-sniffing dogs circled the building before officials cleared the area.

The FBI said it was aware of “numerous hoax incidents” Thursday.

“The FBI takes hoax threats very seriously because it puts innocent people at risk,” Marshay Lawson, a spokesperson for the FBI’s Jackson Division, said in a statement. “While we have no information to indicate a specific and credible threat, we will continue to work with our local, state, and federal law enforcement partners.”

A spokesperson for the Hawaii State Judiciary said Hawaii courthouses and the federal courthouse in Honolulu both received a mass email saying explosives were placed in court facilities. The message appears to have been sent “by the same person/entity” that sent similar threats to state capitol buildings in many states on Wednesday, spokesperson Jan Kagehiro said in an emailed statement. Sheriffs were sweeping the interiors of state courthouse buildings to confirm there was no threat, but facilities remained open, she said.

The Pulaski County Courthouse in downtown Little Rock was evacuated Thursday morning after it received a bomb threat. The threat was announced shortly after a hearing began in a lawsuit between the state Board of Corrections and Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders. The governor and the board have been in an increasingly heated dispute over who runs the state prison system.

Police gave the all-clear after searching the building and allowed people back inside around 11:15 a.m. central time.

The Cascade County courthouse in Great Falls, Montana, was evacuated Thursday morning after the county received a bomb threat. The courthouse was reopened after law enforcement officials determined the threat wasn’t credible.

In northwestern Montana, the Mineral County Justice Court was also evacuated after the county received a bomb threat via email, Sheriff Ryan Funke said in a statement. Law enforcement officers searched the courtrooms in Superior, a town of fewer than 900 people near the Idaho border.

Officials spoke with federal and state agencies and determined the incident was not a threat to the public or court employees, Funke said in a statement.

Bomb threats were also made to several courthouses in New Hampshire and Maine. Courthouses in Cumberland and Kennebec counties in Maine closed temporarily but reopened after searches were conducted, said Barbara Cardone, spokesperson for the Maine court system. The York County Judicial Center in Maine also closed for the day.

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Jan 4, 2024 2:32 PM – 548 words

By MICHAEL GOLDBERG Associated Press

Eds: UPDATES: Updates with incidents in Hawaii, Maine and New Hampshire. With AP Photos.

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