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Concerns about a package left outside the Bartholomew County Courthouse shut down part of downtown Columbus for several hours Thursday morning, but the contents turned out to be compact discs left for an employee.
A corrections officer with the Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department assigned to courthouse security discovered what initially was determined to be a suspicious package about 6:40 a.m. while doing a security sweep prior to the courthouse opening, Sheriff Mark Gorbett said. The building was secured with police tape and Washington Street was closed shortly after the package was found.
The box, about 6 inches tall, was wrapped in newspaper and a black scarf or bandana. It was lodged under a railing outside a basement entrance to the courthouse. A security camera is directly above the entrance and taped a person dropping off the box at about midnight.
Sheriff’s department investigators heard from a courthouse employee that her daughter had left a package of CDs for her outside the entrance, which is near the prosecutor’s office. While investigators tried to reach the daughter, the Columbus Police Department bomb squad sent in an officer with full protective gear to X-ray the package.
The X-ray confirmed that the package was full of CDs.
“It was very suspicious, and the system worked here as far as finding the package,” Gorbett said. “The way the country is, you have to err on caution, for public safety.”
In September 1996, a pipe bomb was discovered outside the courthouse. In that case, several employees passed around the PVC pipe filled with explosive material, not realizing that it was a live bomb. The bomb was exploded on the courthouse lawn by the Marion County bomb squad. No one has been arrested in the 1996 case, Gorbett said.
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