Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Wasco and Sherman counties were among those hit by a rash of bomb threats against county courthouses Monday afternoon, Nov. 19.
The Oregon State Police (OSP) reported receiving information about another 17 courthouse threats, and one against the Oregon Public Service Building in Salem, received by phone Monday. These threats appear to be similar to multiple reports received Nov. 15 in Washington state (about eight reports) and Nov. 2 (about nine reports) in Nebraska, which were all unfounded.
The threats began around 2:30 p.m. and continued for about an hour.
“As this whole thing started evolving, we got trickles of information from other courthouses,” said Lane Magill, Wasco County undersheriff. “We began to get suspicious.”
Sherman County’s threat was called in about 2:35 or 2:40 p.m., according to Rita Wilson, Sherman County deputy clerk, who took the call. Wasco County’s followed at about 2:50 p.m., according to Magill. Both came in to the clerk’s office and followed the same basic format.
“(The call) was from a male caller advising that he basically has multiple bombs inside the courthouse and that this is not a bomb threat but a bomb promise and we’ve got 25 minutes, and he hangs up,” Magill said.
Both courthouses were immediately evacuated. County sheriff’s officers, which are responsible for courthouse security, waited a period of time, then went in and searched the building for explosives.
“Everything was clear,” Magill said.
He was uncertain about any coordinated investigation into the threats or any possible motivation.
“Everybody talks about what’s the motivation, what’s the reasoning,” he said. “There are hundreds of scenarios.”
The Dalles city police helped with the local investigation.
“It takes up a tremendous amount of time and resources — us, OSP, the city of The Dalles, contractors he have working here who couldn’t work,” Magill said. “It’s very disruptive. We’d like to find out who did this.”
The following other locations confirmed with OSP receiving similar threats: Crook County, Baker County, Curry County, Benton County, Jefferson County, Tillamook County, Deschutes County, Morrow County, Grant County, Malheur County, Wallowa County, Umatilla County, Marion County, Baker County, Klamath County, Lake County, Union County.
Some of the locations reported evacuations while responding law enforcement personnel conduct area checks for any suspicious objects. None of the reports have confirmed finding any suspicious objects. Other locations did not evacuated occupants but also conducting area checks.
The Oregon Public Service Building in Salem received a similar report at approximately 3 p.m. The building, which also houses the OSP General Headquarters office, was evacuated and allowed employees back in to their work locations at about 4 p.m. after an area check was completed.
OSP Hazardous Device technicians did not responded to any locations at this time because of no confirmed findings.
Hood River County Courthouse did not receive a threat, according to the Hood River County Sheriff’s office.
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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"
Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge