A bomb threat prompted police to evacuate the state’s 45 court buildings Friday, abruptly interrupting trials while sending judges, lawyers and people with routine court business into the streets.
A caller said bombs would go off at 2 p.m., but an hour later, the buildings were still being searched with dogs and nothing had been found.
Public Safety Commissioner Leonard Boyle said there were five threats that were not directed against specific courthouses. A counterterrorism official in Washington, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation, said a caller threatened to detonate bombs at 2 p.m. at state courthouses in New London, Danielson, Danbury, Middletown, Manchester and New Britain.
At least one of the telephone threats was made about 10 a.m. on a constituent phone line answered by a staff member in Gov. M. Jodi Rell’s office, gubernatorial spokesman David Dearborn said.
Local and state police bomb squads were notified that state police were requesting a sweep of state courthouses.
Defense attorney William Gerace was in the Danielson Superior Court for pretrial conferences when it was evacuated.
“At first they told us we’d be back in momentarily,” he said. “Then we heard a rumor there was a bomb threat. I started looking at my clients suspiciously, but they all swore they didn’t do it. We all stood around outside in the cold for an hour and a half.”
Connecticut’s judicial branch has 83 facilities; 45 include courtrooms.
Larry Mozzicato, who runs a food truck outside that building, said the threat ruined his lunch business. “People were coming out saying there was a bomb threat. Whenever there is a bomb threat, they never stop,” he said.
U.S. Marshal John Bardelli said bomb squads were sweeping federal courts in Bridgeport, New Haven and Hartford but that those courthouses remained open.
“A threat came in,” he said. “I’m not sure the nature of the threat. It came in through the state police.”