Bomb threats empty courts

Jackson County Justice Building workers and visitors file back into the building after a bomb threat Monday afternoon turned out to be a hoax.Bob Pennell

Jackson County was one of 17 Oregon counties to receive telephoned bomb threats at their courthouses Monday afternoon, making Oregon the third state hit with such threats this month.

Curry, Lake and Klamath counties were among those whose courthouse buildings received bomb threats, but Josephine County was not, according to the Oregon State Police.

The Oregon Public Service Building in Salem was also hit with a threat, the OSP said.

The threats began around 2:30 p.m. and continued for about an hour, the OSP said.

In Jackson County, a man called the Election's Office at 2:36 p.m. to say a bomb would explode in 25 minutes in the courthouse, Medford police Lt. Mike Budreau said.

The old Jackson County Courthouse at 10 S. Oakdale Ave. was evacuated, as was the Justice Center across the street at 100 N. Oakdale Ave., police said.

Both locations were searched and no suspicious items were found, Medford police Lt. Mike Budreau said.

The old courthouse is home to many county departments and used to house the Elections Office. That office is now at 1101 W. Main St.

The Justice Center houses circuit courts and their support staff.

Across Oregon, several of the buildings where the threats were received were evacuated, and all were searched, the OSP said. No suspicious items were found and no bombs exploded, it said.

The Public Service Building in Salem, which houses the OSP General Headquarters office, was evacuated for about an hour while that building was checked.

No bomb squads were deployed because no bombs were found, police said.

On Thursday, eight counties in Washington received courthouse bomb threats that were telephoned in in a pattern nearly identical to that seen Monday in Oregon, according to news accounts.

Nine similar threats were logged Nov. 2 in Nebraska and two were called in June around Canton, Ohio, reports state.

In each state, courthouse employees reported receiving calls from a man who said there was a bomb in the building.

"I think they're all going to be related," Budreau said.

The other Oregon counties reporting threats were: Baker, Benton, Crook, Deschutes, Grant, Jefferson, Malheur, Marion, Morrow, Tillamook, Umatilla, Union and Wallowa.

Using telephones or the mail to make threats is considered a federal crime.

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470, or email at mfreeman@mailtribune.com.


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