The public was allowed to return to the Rutherford County judicial building after it was evacuated Thursday morning by a bomb threat.
Sheriff Robert Arnold said the bomb scare was called in at 8:38 a.m. to a deputy clerk. The caller claimed there were bombs inside the building.
"We had a bomb threat called into the courthouse stating there were three bombs in the building and they were going to kill Judge (Don) Ash," Arnold said.
Ash and the other judges in the courthouse were quickly ushered to a safe location as a precaution.
"It was a concern of mine to secure all the judges, naturally since we had a judge's life threatened," Arnold said.
Many were wondering if the bomb threat had anything to do with the decision handed down this week by Chancellor Robert Corlew about the controversial Murfreesboro Mosque. Arnold said that's not the case.
"It sounded like a white male, an educated male with no accent," Arnold said.
Courthouse employees and dozens of people waiting for their names to be called on the court docket were evacuated. All the neighboring businesses were also evacuated. Many were forced to wait on the historic courthouse lawn.
"They came in and said evacuate the building in an orderly fashion," J.T. Lovell said. "I'm just waiting to go to work, and it's hot and I want to get back in and get this over with."
"We were just sitting here wondering if the building was going to blow up in any minute," Samantha Harrod said.
Sheriff's deputies did a quick sweep of the judicial building but found nothing. The Tennessee Highway Patrol and ATF bomb squad arrived with bomb-sniffing dogs to perform a more thorough search.
The building's information technology department is also going through the caller identification system to see if they can locate a phone number from where the threat originated.
"I was surprised about it; we want to know what's going on in our community. We don't expect this to happen here," Go Team Marketing owner Sherreka Crenshaw said.
The public was allowed to return to the building at 1 p.m. Court proceedings resumed at that time.
Copyright WSMV 2012 (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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