SEVIERVILLE — A bomb threat delivered by telephone briefly interrupted activity at the Sevier County Courthouse Wednesday, as the building was evacuated for about 90 minutes while law enforcement officers cleared it.
The threat was called in at about 9 a.m., according to the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office — as many offices were opening and as judges started busy dockets in general sessions and circuit courts.
The sheriff’s office handles security for the courthouse, and officers began evacuating visitors and workers immediately after the call was received.
“They did a great job,” Vice Mayor Bryan McCarter said. “They had everybody out in about 10 minutes.”
The building was searched by K9s and by officers, and no device was found.
By about 10:30 a.m., courthouse activities were resuming, including busy dockets for general sessions and circuit courts.
“That’s pretty good for three floors in a courthouse situation,” said Chief Deputy Michael Hodges of the sheriff’s office.
Circuit Court Judge Rex Ogle said they still expected to finish all court proceedings by the end of the day.
“Everybody’s back at work, and doing what they’re supposed to be doing,” he said.
It was the first time the courthouse has been evacuated since a bomb threat in August 2016.
In 2015, the courthouse was evacuated after a suspicious substance was sent to the district attorney general’s office, which is located on the third floor.
Most operations resumed the same day, although the district attorney’s office was closed for the remainder of the week.
Lab analysis that week showed the substance was not a threat.
Minimizing the disruption took a team effort, as multiple agencies responded to the call.
The sheriff’s office was joined by personnel from the Sevierville Police, Sevierville Fire Department, Knoxville Police Department, and Sevier County Emergency Management Agency.
“We appreciate the cooperation of all those agencies,” Hodges said.
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