Federal building bomb threat deemed a hoax
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Border Patrol Agent T. Edwards, left, and Port Angeles police officer Clay Rife stand across the street from the Richard B. Anderson Federal Building after a bomb threat made on the building on Tuesday. The men were making sure citizens did not walk too close to the building. -- Photo by Chris Tucker/Peninsula Daily News

By Tom Callis
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES -- A bomb threat that prompted the evacuation of the Richard B. Anderson Federal Building on Tuesday afternoon and disrupted downtown traffic was a hoax, authorities have concluded.

No bomb was found in the building at 138 W. First St. after the 1:52 p.m. threat.

"We searched the whole building," Deputy Police Chief Brian Smith said. "We went everywhere."

Police booked Johannes L. Helgeson -- who has been arrested twice for investigation of other bomb threats -- in Clallam County jail on investigation of threatening to bomb or injure property after the first search was completed.

The threat led to the evacuation of the building at the corner of First and Oak streets, and to the closure of a portion of First Street.

Police, with the help of the State Patrol and Border Patrol, shut down First Street between Valley and Laurel streets for about 45 minutes.

The street was reopened at 2:36 p.m. after a search of the building came up empty.

Employees of the Border Patrol, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and Social Security, which all use the building, were allowed to return after the State Patrol bomb squad finished its own search at about 4:30 p.m.

Police Chief Terry Gallagher said Helgeson, 41, walked into the lobby of the Clallam County Sheriff's Office, picked up a phone to dispatch and began complaining about his mental health service providers.

A deputy spoke with him in the lobby for about another 20 minutes before Helgeson allegedly claimed that he had placed a bomb in an ammo can and left it near the front entrance of the federal building, Gallagher said.

Helgeson was brought across the street to the police station, where he was interviewed while authorities searched the building.

Deputy Police Chief Brian Smith said Helgeson told police that he made the threat because he wanted to be sent to federal prison.

In 2009, Helgeson was charged with threatening to detonate bombs at the Port Angeles Walmart and the two Port Angeles Safeway stores.

The Clallam County Prosecuting Attorney's Office dropped the charge in exchange for Helgeson agreeing to participate in Peninsula Community Mental Health's programs.

Helgeson was sentenced to three months in jail in April for threatening to detonate a bomb outside the community mental health office in Port Angeles a month earlier.

Smith said Helgeson could face federal charges.

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Reporter Tom Callis can be reached at 360-417-3532 or at tom.callis@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: October 27. 2010 12:47AM
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