STROUDSBURG — Monroe County detectives are requesting the public’s help in identifying the person(s) responsible for three bomb threats that have targeted the county courthouse in the past two months.
The most recent threat was at 8:37 a.m. Monday, when the Monroe County Control Center received a 911 call saying there were four bombs at the courthouse and five more bombs at nearby attorneys’ offices. The call was placed from the Washington Street area in East Stroudsburg.
The first of these recent threats was at 9:04 a.m. May 7, when the Lackawanna County 911 Center received a call saying there was a bomb at the Luzerne County courthouse. That call was placed from Lackawanna County’s Old Forge area.
At 9:53 a.m., 49 minutes later, the Lackawanna 911 Center received another call, this one placed from the northern Scranton area, saying there was a bomb at a court building in Monroe County, but not specifying which court building. In addition to the county courthouse, a number of district court offices serve the rest of Monroe.
More than a month after the May 7 bomb threat, at 10:56 a.m. June 11, the Lackawanna 911 Center received a call, this one placed from the Dickson City area, saying there was a bomb at the Monroe County courthouse.
Audio recordings of the June 11 and Monday bomb threat calls are available online at www.poconorecord.com. Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Brian Webbe at 570-517-3114 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The courthouse employs several hundred county employees in various offices handling criminal, civil and family court proceedings, jury selections, warrants, drug tests, gun permit applications, marriage licenses, wills, deeds and other duties.
“It’s a nuisance whenever we get a bomb threat,” said Monroe County Sheriff Todd Martin, whose office evacuates the courthouse and helps Stroud Area Regional Police close surrounding roads leading to the building during such incidents. “It disrupts the day-to-day schedule. But, it’s our job to take all threats seriously and do whatever we have to do to keep everyone safe.”
Court employees understand this and are cooperative, taking the inconvenience in stride.
“Even on a normal day, our staff is constantly dealing with sudden, last-minute emergencies, having to juggle and reschedule court proceedings when attorneys for whatever reason are unable to be present at those proceedings,” said Monroe County Court Administrator John Goldner, whose office oversees daily court operations, including trials and hearings.
“So, whenever there’s a bomb threat and we have to evacuate, we’re already prepared and used to things not always going as scheduled,” Goldner said. “We have a very competent, professional staff who keep things moving along as smoothly as possible, even in light of not-so-ordinary situations.”
Bomb threats prompt a response from the Sheriff’s Office, local and state police, local fire and ambulance personnel and the county’s Office of Emergency Services.
“There are no personnel overtime costs to the county when a bomb threat occurs during the courthouse’s normal hours of operation,” Monroe County Commissioner John Christy said. “The cost is the inconvenience to the public we serve when people are unable to do things like fill out gun permit applications, look up wills or deeds or obtain marriage licenses.”
Likewise, the monetary cost of emergency response is a lesser concern to public safety with state police, who bring in dogs to help search buildings for bombs and equipment to disarm any bombs found.
“We don’t ever want any county, municipality or school district being too scared to contact us simply because of how much it might cost for us to respond to these types of emergencies,” Pennsylvania State Police Harrisburg Office spokesman Ryan Tarkowski said. “It’s what we’re here for.”