Bomb threat clears Hawkins County courthouse, annex

Jeff Bobo • Jul 8, 2009 at 12:00 AM

ROGERSVILLE — The Hawkins County Courthouse and Courthouse Annex were evacuated Wednesday afternoon and searched by police and bomb-sniffing dogs after someone called in a bomb threat shortly after 1 p.m.

Rogersville police said the call came from a pay phone inside the city limits, although the exact location of the phone wasn’t released.

Rogersville Police Department Detective Charlie Gibson said the caller told Hawkins County Central Dispatch that the bomb would detonate inside the courthouse at 2 p.m.

Hawkins County and Rogersville police officers worked quickly to evacuate both the main courthouse building and the adjacent Courthouse Annex.

The Kingsport Police Department assisted at the scene with a bomb-sniffing dog, and later the Tennessee Highway Patrol sent one of its dogs to finish the job.

No bomb or suspicious items of any type were found, police said.

Although 2 p.m. came and went without an explosion, the search continued until about 3:15 p.m., when both buildings were cleared for re-entry.

By that time, however, most of the office staff members had been sent home, and the offices remained closed for the rest of the day.

Hawkins County Sessions Court, which holds court Wednesdays, had already concluded by the time the bomb threat was called in. There also wasn’t anything scheduled in the circuit courtroom for the afternoon.

Other courthouse and annex offices evacuated for the afternoon included the chancery court clerk and master, election office, juvenile court clerk, county clerk, register of deeds, trustee and veterans services.

The Rogersville Fire Department blocked off sections of Main Street, Depot Street and Washington Street surrounding the courthouse until the bomb search was concluded.

Initially, the police focus was on evacuating the building and determining if the bomb threat was legitimate.

Once the threat was determined to be bogus, police turned their attention toward finding out who made the call.

Gibson said his department will be following leads they’ve already received, as well as interviewing courthouse employees to determine if any patrons have acted threatening lately, become angry with an office, or acted suspiciously.

Anyone with information about the bogus bomb threat caller is asked to contact the Rogersville Police Department at 272-7555.

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