UPDATED — 'Turned out to be nothing,' say police, about anonymous threat that restricted Jefferson County Courthouse access
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Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News
Port Townsend Police Detective Jason Greenspane stands at the rear door of the Jefferson County Courthouse on Wednesday, as police controlled access to the building due to a potential threat.

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — An anonymous threat that prompted a police screening of the Jefferson County Courthouse on Wednesday “turned out to be nothing,” Port Townsend Police Detective Jason Greenspane said Thursday.

Police closed two of the three access doors after dispatchers received a report that two people on foot supposedly had intentions to bring explosives to the courthouse at 1820 Jefferson St.

Police Wednesday screened those entering the courthouse in search of the alleged suspects.

County commissioners decided to reopen all three doors after police determined the threat was unfounded.

“It’s business as usual back at the courthouse,” Greenspane said Thursday.

The reporting party heard secondhand information that another man had anthrax in his backpack, Greenspane said.

The misunderstanding occurred during a “somewhat custodial” dispute between the man with the backpack and a third man.

“The facts don’t indicate it was a false report,” Greenspane said.

“It was just information that [the reporting party] misunderstood. It was sarcastic in nature.”

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5072, or at rollikainen@peninsuladailynews.com.


OUR EARLIER STORY:

PORT TOWNSEND — An anonymous threat prompted the closure of two of the three access doors to the Jefferson County Courthouse on Wednesday as police screened those entering the courthouse in search of two alleged suspects.

At about 11 a.m., Jefferson County 9-1-1 received an anonymous call naming two people who supposedly had intentions to bring explosives to the courthouse at 1820 Jefferson St. and were traveling on foot, according to Port Townsend Police Department Detective Jason Greenspane.

The roughly 10-second call was made by a male and authorities have not been able to trace its origin, said Joe Nole, chief criminal deputy of the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office.

Greenspane said the police would stay in place until the end of the day.

The decision whether to continue the vigil today is to be made this morning by the county commissioners.

“The threat indicated these people were walking to the courthouse,” Greenspane said.

“We've been here several hours and have seen nothing of the sort.”

Both police and the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office responded, searching but not evacuating the building.

The front and rear entrances were closed, with officers posted at the single open entrance, on the Cass Street side of the courthouse, on alert for the two individuals.

The police declined to provide descriptions of the people. Greenspane said one was found to be in Alaska.

“We located one person out of state, but we are double-checking now in case there are people with the same name,” Greenspane said.

“There is a good likelihood this was a false alarm, but until we know, law enforcement is exercising all caution,” said County Administrator Philip Morley.

Morley sent an email to all courthouse employees at 1:01 p.m. saying business could continue as normal.

“There is no specific threat to the courthouse, but we are taking precautions to eliminate any implied threat,” the email read.

“With the actions of law enforcement, staff and the public are safe.”

About 100 people work in the courthouse, but not all of them are in the building at the same time, according to Auditor Donna Eldridge.

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Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at charlie.bermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: August 21. 2014 5:42PM
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