Carson City Courthouse evacuated after bomb scare; no threat found

Police and first responders cordoned off the area around the El Dorado County Superior Court Wednesday, May 4, to investigate a suspicious plastic device found outside the courthouse.

Police and first responders cordoned off the area around the El Dorado County Superior Court Wednesday, May 4, to investigate a suspicious plastic device found outside the courthouse.

The Carson City Courthouse was temporarily closed Wednesday morning as a possible bomb scare was investigated.

On Wednesday morning, a bomb threat was called into the South Lake Tahoe Courthouse and as a protective measure, Carson City officials swept the Carson Courthouse to make sure no similar devices were on the property. During the sweep, a black trash bag was found in the bushes.

The courthouse was evacuated around 8 a.m. while deputies and detectives conducted a second sweep. Officials said they believed it was harmless and opened the bag. Inside they found clothes, but no threat.

The courthouse reopened and resumed regular duties around 8:30 a.m.

The threats caused Douglas County to sweep government buildings on Wednesday morning.

There were no reports of anything suspicious in Douglas as a result of deputies’ sweep.

Members of the Tahoe Douglas Bomb Squad were in South Lake Tahoe to check out that possible device.

In Carson City, the Capitol complex was swept as a precaution.

“We received no known specific threats,” said Capitol Police Chief Jerome Tushbant. “But as a precaution, we swept the entire Capitol Complex.”

In South Lake Tahoe, police and emergency first responders found a device described by police as a plastic pipe-like object on top of a newspaper and was found near the courthouse entrance. The Tahoe Douglas Bomb squad was called to assess the threat and remove the device using the department’s bomb robot.

“It looked pretty legitimate,” South Lake Tahoe Police Department Lieutenant Brian Williams said, describing the device.

The ensuing investigation determined the device was non-explosive.

“There was nothing inside of it,” Williams said. “It appears that it was likely staged to make responders believe it was an explosive device.”

According to a press release from the city, a county groundskeeper found the suspicious object at approximately 6:35 a.m. Wednesday morning. The courthouse and surrounding area were subsequently cordoned off around 7 a.m., according to Williams.

“We were fortunate to discover this before a lot of people arrived (for work),” Williams said, commending the interagency response. “All in all, it went pretty smoothly. Our hats (are) off to the Tahoe Douglas Disposable Ordinance Crew.”

Both the courthouse building and the neighboring Sheriff’s Department office were evacuated during the incident. California Highway Patrol closed a portion of Johnson Boulevard as well.

Nearby South Tahoe Middle School also reportedly closed its outdoor athletic fields as a precautionary measure.

Johnson Boulevard reopened at around 11 a.m. The courthouse and surrounding buildings also resumed normal business operations at that time.

The South Lake Tahoe Police Department investigation into the incident is ongoing and is being assisted by the FBI. Anyone who may have seen any suspicious activity or know details regarding the case is asked to contact South Lake Tahoe Police Department.

Sebastian Foltz of the Tahoe Daily Tribune and Kurt Hildebrand of The Record-Courier contributed to this report.

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