Capi­tol again shut down af­ter bomb threat

Sec­ond evac­u­a­tion in 2 weeks prompts crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion

Austin American-Statesman - - METRO&STATE - By Clau­dia Grisales

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.

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