Courthouse, local homes evacuated during bomb scare

Abandoned bookbag belonged to man who was at courthouse on business

By Don Coble don@claytodayonline.com
Posted 4/20/22

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – A man innocently hid his bookbag outside the Clay County Courthouse on Tuesday to attend a court hearing, and that prompted local agencies to order an immediate evacuation of …

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Courthouse, local homes evacuated during bomb scare

Abandoned bookbag belonged to man who was at courthouse on business

Posted

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – A man innocently hid his bookbag outside the Clay County Courthouse on Tuesday to attend a court hearing, and that prompted local agencies to order an immediate evacuation of the area.

The man said he had a prohibited item inside the bag, so he placed it behind a newspaper box to avoid problems at security. Little did he know it would set off a chain of events that sent county workers scrambling and backed up traffic on Orange Avenue.

“We evacuated the courthouse and abundance of caution,” said Clay County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Dan Mahla. “We call the multiple resources from sheriff’s office, patrol from the Green Cove Springs Police Department, the Clay County Fire Rescue and the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office’s Bomb Squad.

“The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office Bomb Squad was able to retrieve the backpack and verify the contents and that everything was safe.”

Mahla said several homes behind the courthouse also were evacuated. Traffic on Orange Avenue was re-routed in both directions at Walburg Street from the south and Cypress Avenue from the south.

“Normally in a protocol anywhere between 300 to 1,200 meters is a blast zone that we tried to go.”

Officials – and the man with the bookbag – were relieved with the outcome.

“No injuries and there’s no charges whatsoever,” Mahla said. “He probably made a bad choice on his part to put it in the location that he put it in. “We prefer these types of results.”

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