Baltimore County

Bomb threat Wednesday evacuates district courthouse in Bel Air

The Mary Risteau District Court Building in Bel Air was evacuated Wednesday morning after a bomb threat, the second such evacuation in a week, court officials said.

Nothing suspicious was found in either of the incidents.

Lead bailiff Thomas Berends said a call came in to the clerk's office at about 10:45 a.m. on Wednesday stating, "You like locking people up; how do you like this bomb?"

The building was evacuated until about 1:15 p.m. Bailiffs searched the first floor and a K-9 unit from Baltimore County assisted with the sweep, Berends said.

On Jan. 29, a message was stuck to a parking meter, and "what they indicated on the letter made us think it was for the courthouse," he said.

Berends did not recall any other such incidents during his nine years with the courthouse.

"We are concerned but we realize more than likely it's a phony call. But we have to evacuate," he said.

The threat did not seem to tie up too much of the afternoon court business, with bail reviews and court cases proceeding shortly after their scheduled times. The same building also houses a number of other local or regional offices of state agencies, including social services, property tax assessments, the state fire marshal and natural resources departments.

"Luckily it was not a bad afternoon," Berends said.

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