Bomb Threat Evacuates Two Harrison County Courthouses

GULFPORT (WLOX) -- A bomb threat Thursday morning brought business to a halt at two Harrison county courthouses. Gulfport fire officials say around 10 a.m. someone called saying there was a bomb in "a" courthouse. Since the threat didn't indicate a particular courthouse, officials say both the Biloxi and Gulfport courthouses were cleared as a precaution.

Minutes before dozens of people found themselves on the sidewalk outside the Harrison County Courthouse, they were all either at work, picking up a car tag or in the middle of a trial. That all changed when the alarms went off at the Gulfport courthouse.

Thomas Saucier was on the second floor.

"Fire alarms went off. Loud beeping. It came over the announcement speaker, 'Please evacuate the building in an orderly fashion.'"

"All the alarms went on and the lights were flashing," said Larry Bourgeouis, an assistant district attorney. "Just a little stunned at first, but we just vacated the building in an orderly fashion and we're just waiting to go back in."

That wait lasted 30 minutes while law enforcers searched for a bomb. When nothing was found, they gave the all clear for people to go back into the building.

"We did have a bomb dog on scene and he's going though the building in certain areas just to double check to make sure we don't have a bomb," said Gulfport Fire Chief Pat Sullivan.

Supervisor William Martin says it's time the county reviewed its emergency plan at the courthouses.

"This building has four entrances on the first floor, unlike the federal building where you only go in one way," Martin said. " So the first floor is really open. There is no one checking bags on the first floor, so we just have to be careful."

Chief Sullivan agrees that a security review is needed.  He says both personnel and technology has changed since the policies were last analyzed.

"This is a chance when we sit down and talk about what went right and what didn't go as well as we wanted it to. We'll have a chance to educate, as well as change the polices and the plan," Sullivan said.

Gulfport Police are investigating the bomb threat, since that's where the call came in. Meanwhile, Biloxi police say they searched the courthouse there and found nothing.