Garfield County authorities search for suspects in bomb threat at courthouse
Glenwood Springs Post Independent
Garfield County, Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – A bomb threat Tuesday morning closed down three Garfield County buildings for the rest of the day.
The Garfield County Courthouse, the Garfield County administrative building and the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office were evacuated just after noon on Tuesday.
According to Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario, someone phoned into the Garfield County Court Clerk’s office Tuesday morning about 11 a.m. The person reportedly sounded like an irate male, who made some comments about an injustice he felt had occurred to him. The person then stated that a bomb was in the building and that it was going to blow up at a specific time Tuesday afternoon, according to Vallario. The actual time was not released.
“He basically gave us a time frame, we are going to honor that and let it pass before we even think about letting anyone back in,” Vallario said.
Approximately 200 people were evacuated from the three buildings, and two jury trials were among the normal daily procedures disrupted in the process. The buildings were cleared of any threat about 5 p.m. Tuesday.
The Garfield County administrative building, across Eighth Street from the courthouse, was evacuated because there was a possible connection involving a child custody case, Vallario said. The Human Services office that manages those cases is housed in that building.
Vallario said that a bomb threat would be considered false reporting to authorities, which is a misdemeanor. Authorities had no suspects as of Tuesday night, and Vallario could only speculate on why the person called in the threat.
“They apparently had a bad day in court or have been stewing about something – we just don’t know yet,” Vallario said. “But we are tracking down some leads.”
Vallario indicated that most often bomb threats are “bogus,” but authorities still take the threats very seriously.
According to Garfield County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Tanny McGinnis, a bomb detection dog and his handler, Officer Alan Foust with Foremost Response Security from Grand Junction, arrived about 1:45 p.m. and conducted a sweep of the buildings.
The Grand Junction Bomb Squad was on standby in case a device was located.
County employees who work in the buildings were excused for the remainder of the day.
“We’ve told everybody that we are done for business for the day,” Vallario said. “It will be at least four o’clock before we’d be able to let anybody back in the building.”
The courthouse was evacuated on Feb. 12 after a similar incident unfolded. That incident involved an unidentified male who also called into the courthouse switchboard and told a female courthouse employee there was a bomb in the building.
Garfield County Court Clerk James Bradford was standing outside of the courthouse Tuesday with a juror shortly after the evacuation. Bradford said that in his 12 years working at the courthouse, these two incidents were the only bomb threats that he can remember.
In the February incident, police, sheriff’s deputies and the Glenwood Springs Fire Department completed an initial search of the building and found nothing suspicious.
Bomb-sniffing dogs from Jefferson County were brought in and completed a secondary search, which also found nothing.
Vallario said that this could be a copycat type incident.
“It causes a lot of disruption for the court services,” Vallario said. “I’m sure that is part of the goal. Someone is sitting back and enjoying the fact that they disrupted everybody else’s life, because they feel like their life has been disrupted.”
Authorities are asking anyone with any information regarding this incident to contact the Garfield County Crime Stoppers at 945-0101.
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