Bomb scare closes Garfield County Courthouse |

Bomb scare closes Garfield County Courthouse

Pete Fowler
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
Kelley Cox/Post IndependentGlenwood Springs police officers gather information shortly after a bomb threat was received at the Garfield County Courthouse Thursday afternoon.

GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” Victoria Chaston was almost done with court when she was forced to leave early because of a bomb threat.

“I was almost done,” she said. “I was sentenced to a $250 fine. She came in and said ‘evacuate.'”

Chaston lives in Missouri Heights but must return to the Glenwood Springs branch of the Garfield County Courthouse another day to wrap things up. She said she was in court because she moved from out of state and didn’t get a Colorado driver’s license quickly enough.

Around 2:10 p.m., court officials learned of a bomb threat and told an estimated 100 to 200 people to leave the building. Glenwood Springs Police Chief Terry Wilson said an unidentified male called in to a courthouse switchboard and told a female courthouse employee there was a bomb in the building.

Glenwood police, Garfield County Sheriff’s Office and Glenwood Springs Fire Department completed an initial search of the building a little after 3 p.m., Wilson said.

“We found nothing of any apparent threat or suspicious nature or obvious danger,” he said.

A slower and more methodical secondary search was completed before bomb-sniffing dogs from Jefferson County and Golden made the final search. The Grand Junction bomb squad put a team on standby in case anything suspicious turned up.

“Our intent is to complete the secondary search around 6 (p.m.), lock the building down, let things settle, which is a huge help to the canines, and be able to let the canine teams do a very slow, gradual, methodical walk-through,” Wilson told reporters at the Glenwood Springs Police Department around 5:15 p.m.

At 7:45 p.m., Officer Bob Wilson and K-9 Max from the Golden Police Department and Deputy J.J. Smith and K-9 Flash from the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office entered the courthouse. With no alerts from either dog and no explosive devices found, the building was cleared at 8:45 p.m. and the call was closed by 9 p.m.

Chief Terry Wilson said, “The building has been cleared and is safe for business as usual on Friday.”

Wilson said this type of call is not something that typically leaves a great trail but investigators from the sheriff’s office and police department are looking into it. He said he does not think the call to the switchboard is traceable.

Outside the building in the afternoon, Perla Davila said, “I can’t believe something like that would happen in such a small town. That’s just really scary.”

She speculated it probably wasn’t a legitimate threat but said anything like that has to be taken seriously.

Carlos Davila said, “It kind of raises a red flag ” but it could have been someone that didn’t want to show up to court or was late or something.”

District Judge Dan Petre was among the people whose afternoon work was interrupted by the threat. He said a bomb threat and evacuation has not occurred at the courthouse during his tenure. He’s served here since 2000 and was appointed to a district judge position in 2002.

“I think we have to assume that this is a threat until we find out that it isn’t,” he said.

Colleen Steuben, a motor vehicle clerk in the Garfield County Clerk and Recorder’s Office, said, “I’ve been here for almost 10 years, and this is the first time we’ve been evacuated for a bomb threat.”

“You have to take it seriously,” she added later. “I’d rather know that the building is safe.”

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