Updated Jan 4, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Bomb threats force evacuation of state capitols across U.S.

Kentucky State Capitol

The Kentucky State Capitol building in Frankfort, Kentucky in Oct. 2022. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

Bomb threats targeting state institutions rippled across the country for a second day in a row on Thursday, one day after multiple state capitols were forced to evacuate due to similar threats.

Why it matters: Paired with a recent spate of swatting calls targeting lawmakers, the incidents suggest this could be a raucous year for lawmakers and other officials across the country.

  • Threats against public officials at various levels of government — including lawmakers and federal judges — have been rising in recent years.

The latest: The Mississippi Department of Public Safety said Thursday that multiple bomb threats had been received across the state.

  • The Mississippi capitol building was evacuated for a second day in a row on Thursday, though this time the state Supreme Court building was also evacuated, local news reported.
  • Both buildings were later cleared, a DPS spokesperson confirmed.
  • Mississippi's Hinds County Circuit Court building and other buildings were also evacuated due to a bomb threat Thursday, Hinds County Sheriff Tyree Jones wrote on X. All were later cleared and resumed regular business, he wrote in an update.

Separately: Officials reported bomb threats and subsequent evacuations at government buildings in Arkansas' Pulaski County, Massachusetts' Nantucket County and Maine's Cumberland and Kennebec counties.

  • In each incident — including a new one affecting a courthouse in Daytona Beach, Florida — the threat was resolved and the building reopened.
  • The Daytona Beach Police Department said the incident was "consistent with a current trend of hoax bomb threats" nationwide.

The big picture: State capitol buildings in at least six states — Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Kentucky, Michigan and Mississippi — were forced to take safety precautions as a result of bomb threats Wednesday.

  • In Kentucky's case, a capitol building bomb threat was sent out in a "mass email" to multiple secretary of states' offices and legislative offices around the country Wednesday, Michon Lindstrom, spokesperson for Kentucky Secretary of State Michael Adams, told Axios in an emailed statement.

What they found: The threat was cleared and the capitol building was reopened, as was the case when threats of explosives were reported in state capitol buildings in Connecticut and Georgia and the Michigan State Capitol Commission.

  • Similar threats led to lockdowns at capitol buildings in Mississippi and Minnesota, where state Supreme Court proceedings were disrupted in the middle of oral arguments and forced to move to a courtroom across the street, the Star Tribune reported.
  • In both cases, searches led to no explosives or anything suspicious found, and the buildings were reopened.

What's more: State capitol buildings in Hawaii, Montana and Maine were evacuated due to bomb threats that were ultimately cleared.

  • The same group that sent the threat to the Maine State House on Wednesday sent a similar threat to the Maine Judicial Branch and both were determined to be hoaxes, the judicial branch said in a Thursday press release.
  • Several state entities in Wyoming also received a mass email involving a threat, but law enforcement determined the threat to not be credible and no buildings were closed, AP reported.

Worth noting: The FBI told Axios in an emailed statement Thursday that it was aware that numerous hoax bomb threats had been sent to government buildings and facilities, and is working with law enforcement partners to act on threat information as it arises.

  • "The FBI takes hoax threats very seriously because it puts innocent people at risk," the FBI said, adding the bureau had "no information to indicate a specific and credible threat" thus far.

Editor's note: This story has been updated throughout with the latest information.

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