The Sampson County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a bomb threat targeting the courthouse that resulted in the evacuation of local court facilities in Clinton for several hours Monday morning.
The call, reportedly made from a pay phone, came in to the Duplin County 911 Center at around 8:30 a.m. Monday. Once received, Sampson County authorities were notified and emergency responders quickly converged on the court square downtown. Since no approximate location was given, the main courthouse building, as well as the annex and the extension buildings were all evacuated and promptly shut down.
“We immediately went through our evacuation procedures and locked down those buildings for the safety of everyone,” said Sheriff’s Capt. Eric Pope. “Not having specifics, we had to err on the side of caution.”
Along with the Sheriff’s Office, the Clinton Police Department, Sampson County EMS and Clinton Fire Department were among those who responded to the threat, as well as various city and county officials. The Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office was also on scene with a bomb-sniffing dog.
During the incident, many court personnel and others working in the facilities were able to stay inside the Clinton City Hall Auditorium just a couple hundred yards down Lisbon Street, so they would not have to stand around outside.
The buildings were subsequently cleared and court was opened at 1 p.m. Pope said no explosives, or otherwise dangerous or suspicious devices, were found during the search, and said the matter is being investigated by Sheriff’s authorities.
“If somebody does something like that, it costs time and resources,” Pope said. “If convicted, they can be made to reimburse that money. We are investigating.”
Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.