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Courthouse gets "all clear" after potential bomb threat

By Paul Keane

The Wayne County Courthouse was on lock down and was evacuated Wednesday afternoon after authorities were alerted to a potential bomb threat. The building has since been given the "all clear" but will remain closed for the rest of Wednesday. The facility is expected to re-open Thursday at 8 a.m.

According to Emergency Management Agency Director Angela Atchison, the Secret Service received a phone call from an elderly white man Wednesday saying he was going to strap a bomb to himself and walk into the Wayne County Courthouse. The caller did not specify which Wayne County he was speaking about, though.

Because of the uncertainty of the exact location, officials with the Secret Service contacted every Wayne County in America and alerted law enforcement to the situation. The Secret Service contacted Wayne County Sheriff's Department Chief Deputy Tim Hollinghead, who alerted his staff and other law enforcement and emergency response agencies.

Atchison said the call has been traced back to a phone in Arkansas.

At least 11 states in America have a Wayne County located in it. They include Michigan, Pennsylvania, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, New York, Indiana, Kentucky and Nebraska. The one in Tennessee is located six counties over from the Arkansas state line. The one in Missouri is located just two counties north of the Arkansas state line.

"Even with the information about the call originating from Arkansas, we are taking necessary precautions for safety reasons," Atchison said. "Law enforcement personnel in the area are currently on stand by."

Atchison said the courthouse was being evacuated shortly before 2 p.m. Wednesday, with everyone being removed to safety. The courthouse will remain closed for an unspecified amount of time.

Atchison said Mississippi Homeland Security is coordinated with the Mississippi Highway Patrol to send a canine unit to conduct a sweep of the courthouse as a precautionary measure.

At roughly 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, officials gave the "all clear" announcement regarding the courthouse, meaning no explosives were found. The courthouse will remain closed until Thursday morning.
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