December 12, 2012 2:39:01 PM
Bomb threats prompted the evacuation of courthouses across the state Wednesday, including those in Lowndes and Clay counties. No explosives were found and no injuries were reported.
The Lowndes County Courthouse was shut down for about an hour as the building was swept in an attempt to find the alleged explosives. According to Lowndes County Chief Deputy Marc Miley, the threatening call was received shortly before 2 p.m. by someone in the circuit clerk's office.
"The caller stated there was a bomb and explosives in the courthouse," Miley said. "We evacuated the courthouse and nearby buildings and searched for explosives but none were found."
Lowndes County Sheriff Mike Arledge said a civil trial was being held in the courtroom during the time of the evacuation. Arledge said approximately 40 people were evacuated from the courthouse.
Sen. Terry Brown, R- Columbus, said he was told the calls were made electronically but Miley would not confirm if the 911 call placed in Lowndes County was a computer call or a human voice.
One of the buildings evacuated was nearby Franklin Academy Medical Sciences and Wellness Magnet School. Michael Jackson, public information officer for the Columbus Municipal School District, said the evacuation did not disrupt the school day.
"As a result of the bomb threat, Franklin was evacuated and searched by city and county officials as a precautionary measure," Jackson said. "The incident happened close to dismissal time, therefore no instructional time was disrupted or lost. All of the students were transported home safely."
The district attorney's office was also evacuated. Evacuees were taken to the downtown Y.
Mick Bullock, a spokesman for Gov. Phil Bryant's office, said Bryant was closely monitoring the situation and meeting with law enforcement and emergency response officials.
"I appreciate the assistance the Mississippi office of Homeland Security and other local, state and federal agencies provided to ensure these threats were addressed quickly and correctly," Sen. Roger Wicker said. "Continued cooperation will be important in the coming days to investigate the threats and bring those responsible to justice."
The Federal Bureau of Investigation, along with other federal, state and local agencies, including the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, is actively investigating the threats, FBI spokesperson Deborah Madden said.
A total of 31 threats were reported in 29 counties across the state Wednesday. Similar threats were reported Nov. 27 in Tennessee, Nebraska, Washington and Oregon.
Authorities said the phone calls seemed to be a recorded message. The incidents are still under investigation.
Anyone with information on the threats is asked to call the state office of Homeland Security at 601-933-7200 or the FBI in Jackson at 601-948-5000.