Brentwood courthouse evacuated after bomb threat
BRENTWOOD - The Rockingham County Superior Court was closed for nearly three hours Tuesday morning after someone phoned in a bomb threat.
The courthouse was evacuated around 9 a.m. after a dispatcher at the Rockingham County Sheriff's Department learned of the threat made through a call to 911, Sheriff Michael Downing said.
Judges and staff were immediately notified and bailiffs and sheriff deputies assigned to the courthouse began evacuating the building, Downing said.
Other deputies also responded, along with bomb-sniffing dogs from state police.
'A thorough search of the building was conducted by the state police dogs and deputies that responded. At noon they determined that there was no device in the building and it was reopened,' Downing said. A metal cylinder-type object similar to a Thermos was discovered behind the courthouse during the search, but Downing said it was empty and not believed to be related to the threat.
'State police looked at it and determined it wasn't anything to be concerned with,' he said.
The sheriff's department is leading the investigation into the threat.
Some long-time attorneys who have handled cases in New Hampshire courts for many years said it was the first time they had heard of a court receiving a bomb threat.
'This is unique and hopefully it's not going to be reoccurring,' Downing said.
The threat disrupted court proceedings throughout the morning and created a scheduling nightmare for court officials, attorneys, clients, jurors and others with court business.
Michael DiCroce, who arrived just before the evacuation to prosecute cases for the Newfields and Newmarket police departments, had to reschedule some of his Tuesday hearings.
'It's costing people a lot of money,' he said.
Tim Barker of Brentwood showed up just before 9 a.m. for what was supposed to be a 10-minute hearing to schedule a trial date in his divorce case. He said he paid his lawyer $300 to attend the hearing, but the lawyer wasn't able to hang around while the court was closed after the bomb threat because he had to appear at another case in Portsmouth.
In the end, Barker said he would have to represent himself.
'I lost $300 and a day's pay,' Barker said. 'I could have been to work at 9:30 a.m.'
Despite the expense and the inconvenience, Barker said he understood that the threat had to be taken seriously and the building searched.
Major Al Brackett of the Rockingham County Sheriff's Department said investigators are 'aggressively' pursuing leads as they try to track down the person who phoned in the threat.