Courthouse Bomb Threat Proves False
BY JOHN CHAPPELL
A bomb threat called into the Moore County Courts Facility in Carthage Wednesday turned out to be false.
Deputies checked the building from top to bottom after 911 reported receiving a bomb threat just after 8 a.m. Court remained open, and the building was not evacuated. The man threatened to blow up the courthouse at noon.
"Hi, sir. This is a bomb threat this morning," a male voice says on the recording. "You all got to quit pulling me over and driving me around."
He said he was tired of being pulled over by law enforcement, tired of what he described as driving him around, doing illegal searches of his car.
"I'm going to blow the courthouse up this morning at 12 o'clock," the caller said.
The man hung up when the 911 operator told him he would connect him to the police.
Officers were able to determine that the call originated from a public phone at a Kangaroo station in Southern Pines, according to Chief Deputy Neil Godfrey.
An investigation is continuing as law enforcement officers try to determine who made the call. Even making a false report could be a federal crime. The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) will be involved.
"It is also a state offense," Godfrey said. "There is really nothing the feds can do at this point that we can't do. Their response time is ... (shrugging) ATF will be involved in it. We actually do have a deputy who is part of an ATF task force, Dan Ritter. We did everything that we typically do in these kinds of scenarios. We did a sweep of the courthouse, alerted the bailiffs and the clerk."
There was ample time between the call and the time of its threatened detonation for investigators to make a thorough search of the building, Godfrey said. Everyone entering passes through a metal detector where deputies inspect everything they are bringing in.
Any possible evacuation decision would have been made after consulting Clerk of Court Susan Hicks and all the judges holding court.
The sheriff's office no longer has its own bomb-sniffing dog.
"There is some talk we may get another one to replace the one we had," Godfrey said. "We just haven't got that far along. Of course we have dogs available. If we thought there was a need, we could have brought one in."
Investigators will check court dockets, recent traffic stops and other altercations in trying to determine the identity of the caller.
"There are things we are doing," he said. "Did somebody fail to show up for court? Maybe somebody didn't have money to pay a fine."
Contact John Chappell by e-mail at email@example.com.
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