No Devices Found After Bomb Threats At County Courthouses
Cheatham County Courthouse
CHEATHAM COUNTY, Tenn. - Officials said that no devices were found after bomb threats were called into 30 county courthouses across the state on Tuesday.
Tennessee Emergency Management Agency spokesman Jeremy Heidt said several of the courthouses are in Middle Tennessee, including Bedford, Benton, Cannon, Cheatham, Clay, Cumberland, Decatur, Fentress, Franklin, Grundy and Giles.
The Tennessee Highway Patrol sent a bomb-sniffing dog to clear the scene at the Cheatham County Courthouse on Public Square in Ashland City. The evacuation was lifted by 1 p.m.
In West Tennessee, the county courthouses included Carroll, Chester, Crockett, Gibson, Hardeman, Hardin, and Shelby. Courthouses affected in East Tennessee included Anderson, Bledsoe, Blount, Bradley, Campbell, Carter, Claiborne, Grainger, Greene, Hamblin, Hamilton, and Hancock.
The federal building in Memphis that houses the federal court and other federal offices was evacuated around 9 a.m. Tuesday for a couple of hours while authorities checked it.
The Tennessee Highway Patrol and state emergency managers tracked 30 counties dealing with the threats. All 30 courthouses have been cleared by law enforcement. There were no devices found.
Heidt said the threats were made by telephone to court clerk offices. At the Cheatham County Court House, deputy clerk Rebecca Nicholson answered the suspicious call.
"It was just a man's voice saying simply 'if this is the Cheatham County Courthouse you're about to be blown up' and it startled me. So I just said 'I'm sorry.' I tried to get him to repeat himself and that's when it just cut off and I thought oh my," she said.
The Tennessee Department of Safety & Homeland Security said they were "monitoring the situation and assisting local law enforcement agencies as needed."
Cheatham County Mayor David McCullough said they haven't had a bomb threat in twenty years. He said while they responded the way they were supposed to, it's incredibly inconvenient for some to play a prank.
"It's not funny. It's not. If it's someone who's just thinking about on the level of a joke it's not funny at all. If it's someone who's trying to terrorize it's totally inappropriate," said McCullough.
Tennessee is at least the fourth state this month to deal with phony bomb threats at courthouses. In Oregon, 28 courthouses were threatened last week, and similar threats were reported in Nebraska and Washington.
(The Associated Press Contributed To This Report.)