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The Shawnee News-Star
  • Investigation ongoing after bomb threat at Pottawatomie County courthouse

  • An investigation is ongoing after a telephone bomb threat resulted in evacuation of the Pottawatomie County courthouse Wednesday morning.
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  • An investigation is ongoing after a telephone bomb threat resulted in evacuation of the Pottawatomie County courthouse Wednesday morning.
    Three bomb-sniffing dogs thoroughly checked the building during the three-hour evacuation, with an all clear given just before 1 p.m. for people to go back inside.
    Events began to unfold just before 10 a.m. when employees and members of the public, many who were there for court on a busy felony docket day, were calmly asked to leave the county government building.
    Most people filed down the steps and then gathered out on the front steps of the courthouse as sheriff's deputies conducted a massive sweep of the building, located at 325 N. Broadway in Shawnee.
    Pottawatomie County Sheriff Mike Booth said an anonymous call to the court clerk's office indicated there was a bomb in the courthouse.
    The clerk asked a few questions of the caller and then immediately notified deputies.
    Booth said no one had seen anything suspicious, but the evacuation was ordered as deputies conducted a sweep of the four-story courthouse as well as the grounds outside.
    An auditor visiting the courthouse said the entire process was calm.
    "We were told to go ahead and leave," she said.
    "No one panicked and everyone exited calmly and orderly," the sheriff said. "I'm pretty grateful for that."
    Earl Williams was in a courtroom when he said the judge asked everyone to leave the building and go outside.
    "I thought he was joking," Williams said, but he left as everyone else did.
    As word spread about the cause being a bomb threat, Williams, like many others, didn't seem too worried as law enforcement worked the scene.
    "I'm glad they're being cautious," he said.
    Alana Coon, who works in the county clerk's office, said they figured it was a false alarm, but said they decided they'd rather be outside, just in case.
    Shawnee police blocked off roadways around the courthouse building downtown, keeping traffic out as many left the area by vehicle. Others stood around the courthouse lawn and nearby Woodland Veterans Park for quite some time before many slowly left, with most deciding to take an early lunch break.
    Deputies, many with this type of training, Booth said, conducted a visual inspection of all spaces in the courthouse, from the basement to the roof, but turned up nothing.
    Since some still had a fear, Booth asked for the Oklahoma Highway Patrol to respond with bomb-sniffing dogs "to err on the side of caution."
    Troopers with three trained dogs entered the building just before noon and did a thorough search of both the courthouse and adjacent district attorney's building. Booth said they found nothing.
    Page 2 of 2 - The all clear for re-entry into both buildings came just before 1 p.m., with normal activities resuming in the courthouse the rest of the afternoon.
    Undersheriff Travis Palmer said deputies are now investigating the source of the call and that probe is ongoing.
    Booth said making a telephone bomb threat is a felony offense.
    Watch for updates.
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