MARIETTA – No one was allowed inside the Cobb County Courthouse complex for part of Wednesday morning after a bomb threat was called in.
The area was put on lockdown after a 911 caller said bombs were buried outside the Cobb and Cherokee county courthouses at 10:20 a.m., said Cobb Sheriff’s Office Col. Milton Beck. A search confirmed no explosive devices were in the area and it was reopened by 11:50 a.m.
Beck credited the work by deputies as well as the Marietta Fire Department with completing the job quickly.
“We had the folks in the right place at the right time today,” he said. “It went real quick and real well.”
Sheriff’s deputies directed people attempting to enter the Cobb State Courthouse back to Glover Park to wait while explosive-sniffing dogs checked out the block of the justice center on the Marietta Square.
Both Haynes and Waddell streets, which run between the three blocks of the county's three courthouses, were closed during the search.
While entrance to the Courthouse Complex, including the Superior and State court buildings as well as the solicitor’s office, was restricted, the buildings were not evacuated during the search, Beck said.
Baldwin Hamilton of Marietta said he was inside the state courthouse for a case when he went outside to move his car and wasn't allowed back inside.
"I didn't know anything was going on until I got outside," he said. "There wasn't any urgency, announcement or sirens inside the building about a bomb."
Hamilton, whose wife was still inside the building around 11:15 a.m. while he stood outside waiting to go back inside, was also worried because he couldn't call and warn her about the potential bomb threat since cell phones aren't allowed in the courtroom.
"My wife doesn't even know I'm out here," he said. "If there's anyone I wanna die with, it's her, and I can't even tell her."
He ended up being outside for nearly 30 minutes waiting for the go-ahead to go back inside.
Austell resident Ronald Stephens said he waited outside for nearly an hour trying to get into the building.
"They told me they found a package outside or something and that I couldn't go inside," he said. "There isn't even a bomb squad out here. There are still people walking up and down the sidewalk by the building, too."
He was attempting to go inside the state courthouse for a urine test since he is on probation.
At approximately 11:45 a.m. people were allowed back into the building and the police and fire presence left the area.
Beck said he had no information on whether the calls had anything to do with the monthly foreclosure auction, which is traditionally held on the Courthouse steps the first Tuesday of the month but was pushed back a day because of the New Year’s holiday. In recent months several states, including Tennessee, Oregon, Washington and Nebraska, have had incidents where bomb threats were called in at multiple courthouses around the same time.
Beck said he didn’t know of any threats outside of Cobb and Cherokee counties.