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Bomb threat disrupts federal courthouse

Law enforcement officers with bomb-sniffing dogs spent just an hour Thursday morning to determine no bomb had been planted in the Thomas F. Eagleton U.S. Courthouse.

Jim Woodward, clerk of the U.S. District Court, said the threat against the U.S. Bankruptcy Court came at about 9:30 a.m. The U.S. Marshals Service evacuated the building at about 9:52 a.m., Woodward said. The threat may have said the bomb would explode at 10 a.m. Woodward could only say there was “something significant” about that time.

Dana McWay, clerk of the Bankruptcy Court, was attending an out-of-town conference Thursday. She could not be reached for comment.

Robert O’Connor, judicial security inspector, would not identify whether the person who called in the threat was male or female. The Marshals Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are investigating, O’Connor said.

Woodward and O’Connor said they weren’t aware of any heightened threat against the courthouse before Thursday’s incident.

The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, Federal Protective Services and the St. Louis Airport Police assisted the Marshals Service with the bomb search, O’Connor said. Both Woodward and O’Connor said the evacuation went smoothly.

The first inkling members of the District Court had that there was a problem, Woodward said, was when prisoners were not where they were supposed to be for their scheduled hearings. Rumors of the bomb threat flew through the building, and Chief Judge Catherine Perry talked to the Marshals Service to confirm the rumors minutes before the announcement came to evacuate the courthouse, Woodward said.

No trials were scheduled for Thursday, but the evacuation disrupted a number of hearings scheduled in the morning, Woodward said.

J.Buck’s opened its doors for employees to cool off while they were waiting to get back in the courthouse, Woodward said. The temperature during the 10 a.m. hour was in the low 90s, according to the National Weather Service.