Bomb threats prompt evacuation of Kane court buildings
By Janelle Walker For Sun-Times Media September 4, 2013 11:12AM
Emergency vehicles sit outside the Kane County Courthouse on Route 38 in St. Charles Wednesday morning after the facility was cleared out due to a bomb threat. Bomb threats also were called in against county court buildings on Randall Road in St. Charle
Updated: October 7, 2013 12:38PM
ST. CHARLES TWP. — A caller who phoned in a bomb threat to the Kane County Circuit Clerk’s Office at 9:40 a.m. Wednesday said in the voice mail message, “A lot of people are going to die today in Kane County.”
And moments after that call came in, another call — indicating four bombs had been placed in a courthouse — was phoned in to the QuadCom 911 Center in Carpentersville.
Due to the unspecific nature of the threats, Sheriff Pat Perez said, authorities evacuated and searched the Kane County Judicial Center on Route 38 near St. Charles, the Kane County Circuit Clerk and Kane County Branch Court in the same building on Randall Road in St. Charles, and the Elgin Branch Court inside city hall on Dexter Court.
Other courtrooms — including the Kane County Courthouse in Geneva, the Carpentersville Branch courtroom in Carpentersville Village Hall, and the Aurora Branch courtroom — also were searched, Perez said.
“It is a precaution, because the call (to QuadCom) came from the north end of the county,” Perez said, noting that is the emergency dispatch center for Carpentersville, East and West Dundee and Sleepy Hollow.
QuadCom dispatchers relayed the call to KaneComm, the Kane County dispatch center in Geneva, he added.
Dogs in search
Everyone was cleared at the three major criminal courthouses in the county, Perez said.
Just after 10:30 a.m. at the Judicial Center, deputies walked through and announced all visitors needed to leave the building because of a bomb threat.
A sheriff’s squad car was already outside the building just before 10:30. Minutes after the evacuation, a bomb and arson evidence truck arrived, and one person entered the building.
Patrons, attorneys and others sat outside, near the entrance, after the evacuation.
Clerk’s office employees were huddled in a parking lot behind the building.
Officers, including about 20 court security officers and 15 Kane County patrol officers, helped with three bomb-searching dogs to clear the Judicial Center, according to the sheriff.
Officers went in a grid, floor by floor, checking every bathroom, courtroom and judge’s chamber. “Every room will be searched,” Perez said.
The branch court hearings normally held in the north wing of Elgin’s city hall building were not taking place anyway, because that session is held instead in the Carpentersville Village Hall on Wednesdays. However, a court session was scheduled to start at 1 p.m. in Elgin.
Business at the Elgin City Hall was little affected until about 11:45 a.m., when city police set up a table and a rope line at the city hall’s main entrance and began turning away anyone from the public who arrived to do business, telling them to come back after 1 p.m. About noon, a DuPage County Sheriff’s Office bomb-detecting dog arrived and prepared to search the building’s courtroom areas.
Elgin police Cmdr. Glenn Theriault said the court wing was searched by the bomb dog before the branch court opened at 1 p.m.
After 1 p.m., he said, “we will provide an extra level of security.”
He said officers manning the outdoor table spoke with anyone arriving to do either city or court business, checking any parcels they were carrying, while court security officers executed the usual metal-detector search of all courtroom visitors inside the building at the entrance to the courtroom.
The QuadCom call — which came in on a 911 line — also was forwarded to Carpentersville police, said Cmdr. Tim Bosshart.
The call came in at 9:50 a.m., Bosshart said. His department then contacted Kane County, which told Carpentersville about the second threat, Bosshart said.
“They were just about to call us,” he added.
Wednesday’s court call was East and West Dundee and Sleepy Hollow traffic and ordinance violation cases, he added. The judge cleared the room and later made the decision to continue all of Wednesday’s cases that had not been heard to another day, Bosshart said.
A typical Carpentersville court call can have 200 people come through, he said.
The courtroom — the village board chambers — were first searched by court security. Later, one of the Kane County Sheriff’s Office bomb-sniffing dogs was also brought in to check the room, he said.
Village hall also was cleared while searches were conducted in all areas open to the public, he said.
Nothing suspicious was found in any of the courtrooms, officials said.
Kane County sheriff’s investigators were tracing the calls and looking for two people of interest in connection with the bomb threat, Perez said.
This is not the first time the Kane County Judicial Center has been cleared for a bomb threat, he noted. One, about two years ago, was made by a mother whose son was on probation. She knew her son would have a positive drug test, so she called in the threat in an attempt to thwart the test, Perez said.
That never works, said Lt. Pat Gengler, public information officer for the sheriff’s office.
“Once we find out why they did this today … we will still do our court work, and it will just make you in more trouble” with the law, Gengler said.
Gengler was using the Kane County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page and Twitter account to get information about the threats to those who were supposed to appear in court Wednesday.
He said late Wednesday afternoon that the investigation was continuing and no arrests had been made.
Staff writer Dave Gathman and correspondent Dan Campana contributed to this report.