Capitol again shut down after bomb threat
Second evacuation in 2 weeks prompts criminal investigation
For the second time in as many weeks, a bomb scare triggered the evacuation of the Texas Capitol on Friday, and the state landmark and its surrounding grounds were shut down for several hours.
As in the June 18 case, law enforcement officials did not turn up any threats, Texas Department of Public Safety officials said Friday.
The scares are at the center of a new DPS criminal investigation, and police hope to get the public’s help to find out who is behind the calls. DPS spokeswoman Tela Mange said that officials do not think the two incidents are connected but did not elaborate.
“There’s an ongoing criminal investigation,” Mange said. “We want to find out who (is behind the calls), and we will arrest them once we find them. Anybody who has information on who it is should call DPS.”
On June 18, an unidentified man called a bomb threat into 911 at 11 a.m. for the Capitol and a nearby DPS security building at 15th Street and Congress Avenue, DPS spokeswoman Lisa Block said. Both buildings were evacuated for several hours but reopened later when noth- ing was discovered. The caller in that case has not been identified, Block said.
Friday’s scare was triggered shortly before 7 a.m. after police received a 911 call from an unidentified male from a pay phone to say there were bombs in the East and West wings of the Capitol and that they would go off at 9 a.m., DPS public communications officer Terry Jones said.
Shortly thereafter, all employees were cleared from the Capitol grounds, Jones said. Many workers received an e-mail alert to leave the Capitol immediately.
DPS personnel, including troopers and search
Continued from B dogs, conducted a sweep of the Capitol and did not turn up any threats, Jones said.
The Capitol was reopened to employees and the public shortly before 10 a.m., Jones said.
Among those outside the evacuated Capitol, Marshall truck driver Jimmie Davis and his family waited almost two hours to get into the state- house.
Despite standing in occasional drizzle, he said the delay was not a problem.
“We walked down Congress Avenue. What a view,” he said. “I understand the need for security these days.… It happens.”
Others waiting outside the Capitol until the building was reopened by troopers included reporters and legislative employees who were at work Friday. Many took the day off ahead of the July 4 holiday.
Austin police received the 911 call shortly before 7 a.m. and alerted the Texas Department of Public Safety, which handles security at the Capitol, Lt. Darrell Boydston said.
Anyone with information about the case is asked to call DPS at 512-463-3556.