The Gilmer Police Dept. received a phone call on its non-emergency line about 1:15 p.m. saying the courthouse needed to be evacuated as "there was a bomb in there," Grunden said Monday. The caller, possibly an adult, said she would call back at 3:30 p.m., but never did, officers said.
Grunden said police "don't have a clue" who the caller was, and that he had turned the investigation over to Upshur County Sheriff Anthony Betterton. Betterton told The Mirror outside the courthouse Monday afternoon he could make no comment on the situation.
In text messages to the newspaper Monday night, Upshur County Pct. 2 Comm. Cole Hefner said Betterton told him the building was searched and no bomb was found. Dist. Atty. Billy Byrd said Tuesday he was unaware of any arrests in the case, but noted that three of his staff members were among those evacuated from the building — and that two of them were in County Court when the structure was cleared.
County Judge Dean Fowler said about 30 persons evacuated the 75-year-old brick structure in an orderly manner.
Grunden said he contacted Betterton about the threat. Fowler said the sheriff came to the courthouse about 1:30 p.m., advised him of the situation, and ordered the building cleared.
Grunden also went to the scene, and said the Sheriff's Office cleared the structure on the downtown square.
Fowler and Betterton were among a handful of county officials and county lawmen who remained outside the building for a time Monday afternoon. While there, about 2 p.m., Fowler told the newspaper no bomb had been found in the building and that "I feel sure the courthouse is safe. . .(but) you have to err on the side of caution."
A note on the 5-story building's north door read "Courthouse is closed for rest of today."
County Pct. 1 Comm. James Crittenden said Monday he was in the building about 1:45 p.m. when Pct. 3 Comm. Lloyd Crabtree advised him of the bomb threat. Like Fowler, Crittenden described the evacuation as orderly.
County Clerk Brandy Lee, who was among those evacuating, said Tuesday Betterton whispered in her ear about the bomb threat, and "at first, I kind of thought it was a joke."
"It was pretty scary," she said.
Mrs. Lee said her office had three customers at the time, two of which she thought were landmen.
Betterton, Crabtree, Hefner, and Fowler, among others, remained outside the building's east side Monday afternoon. At least one deputy sheriff was elsewhere on the premises.
The Mirror left a voice mail for sheriff's Investigator Gary Roberts Tuesday morning. As of press time, the call had not been returned.
The courthouse houses much, though not all, of the county government.
Besides the county clerk's office, it includes offices of the county judge, all four county commissioners, county fire marshal, county auditor, county treasurer, Pct. 4 justice of the peace, the county extension office, the county veteans service officer, several of the county's probation officers; and part of the district attorney's office.