Archived Story

Bomb threat causes courthouse evacuation

Published 9:58pm Thursday, September 6, 2012

A bomb threat caused the evacuation of the Chilton County Courthouse on Thursday.

Ronald Hester, 44, of Clanton was arrested and charged with making terrorist threats, according to a news release. Police officials said Hester had no explosives, or the means to make any, but might have made the threat in order to avoid a scheduled probation meeting.

“In today’s world, we have to take these threats seriously,” Clanton Police Chief Brian Stilwell said in the release. “This bomb threat occupied numerous detectives, officers and deputies, securing buildings and investigating the threat for over eight hours.

“If found guilty, he has a lot more to worry about than a probation drug test.”

Someone called a local business about 9:30 a.m. Thursday and said a bomb would be delivered to the Chilton County Probate office after lunch.

Clanton Police officers and Chilton County Sheriff’s deputies secured the area and began an investigation.

The person called the sheriff’s office shortly before 10 a.m. and said the bomb would be delivered to the state probation office on Jackson Avenue.

Officers gathered information from telephone providers and were able to track the phone to a residence on County Road 37.

Several suspects were brought to CPD for questioning, and Hester was subsequently arrested. No bond had been set as of Thursday night.

“We’re glad we got him in custody so everybody can feel safe going to work [Friday],” Sheriff Kevin Davis said. “In my opinion, this was one of the best partnerships and teamwork I’ve been a part of—to arrest this guy in the time that we did, with little to no information to go on.”

The courthouse was evacuated while the investigation was ongoing. Chilton County’s 911 system was operated out of a remote location, and Judge Rhonda Hardesty relocated Department of Human Resources court to Clanton City Hall.

Investigators discovered the phone used was a “burn phone,” a prepaid phone with no subscriber information entered at the time the phone was activated. Also, the caller had attempted to use the *67 feature to block caller ID.

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