Bomb squad called to check potential threat at South Lake Tahoe courthouse (updated)
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — Police and emergency first responders were called to the El Dorado County Superior Court building in South Lake Tahoe Wednesday, May 4, to respond to a suspicious device found in front of the courthouse.
The device was described by police as a plastic pipe-like object on top of a newspaper and was found near the courthouse entrance. The Tahoe Douglas Bomb Squad was called to assess the threat and remove the device using the department’s bomb robot.
“It looked pretty legitimate,” South Lake Tahoe Police Department Lt. Brian Williams said, describing the device.
The ensuing investigation determined that the device was non-explosive.
“There was nothing inside of it,” Williams said. “It appears that it was likely staged to make responders believe it was an explosive device.”
According to a press release from the city, a county groundskeeper found the suspicious object at approximately 6:35 a.m. Wednesday morning. The courthouse and surrounding area were subsequently cordoned off around 7 a.m., according to Williams.
“We were fortunate to discover this before a lot of people arrived,” Williams said, commending the interagency response. “All in all, it went pretty smoothly. Our hats off to the Tahoe Douglas Disposable Ordinance Crew.”
Both the courthouse building and the neighboring Sheriff’s Department office were evacuated during the incident. California Highway Patrol also closed a portion of Johnson Boulevard.
Nearby, South Tahoe Middle School reportedly closed its outdoor athletic fields as a precautionary measure.
Johnson Boulevard reopened at around 11 a.m. The courthouse and surrounding buildings also resumed normal business operations at that time.
The South Lake Tahoe Police Department investigation into the incident is ongoing and will be assisted by the FBI. Anyone who may have seen any suspicious activity or know details regarding the case is asked to contact South Lake Tahoe Police Department.
As a precaution, the Carson City Justice and Municipal Court was also temporarily closed around 8 a.m. Wednesday morning as a possible bomb scare was investigated there.
Because of the South Lake Tahoe incident, Carson City officials swept the Carson Courthouse to make sure no similar devices were on the property. According to the Record-Courier, during the sweep, a black trash bag was found in the bushes outside of the building.
Officials said they believed it was harmless and opened the bag. Officers found clothes, but no threat.
The courthouse in Carson City reopened and resumed regular duties around 8:30 a.m.