A bomb threat cleared the Union County Courthouse just before 10 a.m. Tuesday morning according to the La Grande Police Department.
The threat was phoned into Union County dispatch by a male caller at 9:47 a.m. According to a press release from LGPD, the caller stated there were bombs in the courthouse “that were set to detonate in 30 minutes.”
Courthouse staff and citizens were immediately evacuated per protocol. LGPD, Union County Sheriff’s Office and La Grande Fire Department all responded to the call.
“We went in and had law enforcement and court security search the building,” LGPD Police Chief Brian Harvey told The Observer. They were able to conduct the vast majority of that clearance within that time frame of 30 minutes.”
Law enforcement was unable to locate any devices after conducting the search. The chief said law enforcement wasn’t able to clear the roof within the 30-minute time frame, but did clear it shortly after with the aid of a ladder truck from LGFD.
“(It took) probably another 15-20 minutes to get the roof done,” Harvey said.
It was roughly an hour before law enforcement “let courthouse staff know they could resume operations,” Harvey said.
The chief said in the event a device was located a bomb squad, likely from Oregon State Police, would be brought in.
“We would maintain a perimeter to keep everyone out of harm's way and seek assistance from a bomb squad,” he said. “They would assess the device and determine the best course of action.”
An active investigation by LGPD and UCSO, which the police department is heading, is underway and is following up on leads.
“We have some viable tips that we are following up on right now,” Harvey said.
Anyone who has information is asked to contact the La Grande Police Department at 541-963-1017.
The courthouse was not the only building in La Grande to be evacuated Tuesday, as Harvey said the Grande Ronde Hospital Regional Medical Clinic on Fourth Street was evacuated Tuesday afternoon.
The chief said a patient who was in the clinic forgot he had a firearm in his possession while in the building.
The building was evacuated around 3 p.m. The individual, who was a licensed concealed carry holder, was determined to not be a threat and did not commit a crime, Harvey said. He added, though, that there was “absolutely nothing wrong with the response” of the clinic’s staff.
LGPD and USCO responded to the call.