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Bomb threats force evacuations in several state capitols

Bomb threats were reported in at least a half-dozen state capitols Wednesday morning, forcing evacuations from statehouse buildings and interrupting court proceedings, according to officials and local news outlets.

Security threats have been reported in Connecticut, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana and Wisconsin so far Wednesday.

The FBI said it was aware of “hoax” bomb threats in state capitols around the country and urged the public to report any suspicious activity to law enforcement.

“The FBI takes hoax threats very seriously because it puts innocent people at risk,” the FBI said in a statement. “While we have no information to indicate a specific and credible threat, we will continue to work with our local, state, and federal law enforcement partners to gather, share, and act upon threat information as it comes to our attention.”

Several people at the Connecticut Capitol received emails Wednesday morning about a threat that they then reported to law enforcement, Lt. Greg Wimble, a Connecticut Capitol Police spokesman, told The Washington Post.

“It was an email that somebody had claimed to have placed multiple explosives within our capitol building,” Wimble said, noting that officials in other states were included on the email.

The threat prompted a closure of the Capitol and its adjoining property, he said, while explosive-detection teams swept the premises. After the building was deemed safe, the lockdown was lifted about 9:45 a.m.

Gabriel Sterling, a senior elections official at the Georgia secretary of state’s office, posted on social media just after 8:30 a.m. that a bomb threat had been reported at the Georgia Capitol. The building was closed after a “hoax email” was sent to an employee about a bomb threat, Georgia State Patrol spokeswoman Courtney Floyd said in an email.

“A search was conducted, and an all-clear was given. The Capitol has been reopened. These are the only details available for release at this time,” Floyd said.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) said in a social media post Wednesday that a threat received by the secretary of state’s office had prompted the Kentucky State Police to evacuate the Capitol in Frankfort.

“We are aware of similar threats made to other offices across the country,” Beshear said, noting everyone was safe.

In Michigan, a threat was emailed to a general account for the State Capitol Commission about 7:45 a.m. Wednesday, said Michigan State Police spokeswoman Lori Dougovito.

“The Capitol was evacuated, the building searched, and the Michigan State Police currently has MSP Canine teams still sweeping the building,” Dougovito said in an email. “Out of an abundance of caution, the Capitol will remain closed for the rest of the day.”

In Minnesota, an “unspecified threat” interrupted oral arguments at the Minnesota Supreme Court, according to a Fox 9 News reporter. The Minnesota Capitol was also locked down after security officials were made aware of bomb threats received via email at other state capitols across the country, Minnesota State Patrol spokeswoman Lt. Jill Frankfurth said in an email.

“No suspicious or threatening items were found,” Frankfurth wrote. “After the searches and sweeps were complete, the building was reopened and normal activities have resumed. As a precaution, Capitol Security will have an increased presence in the building for the remainder of the day.”

It is unclear why the emails targeted the states above, a mix of red, blue and swing states. The threats come amid an increase in attacks — threatened and real — on public officials, including a spate of “swatting” incidents recently that targeted politicians from both sides of the aisle. “Swatting” refers to the act of making phony calls for help, leading heavily armed law enforcement personnel to show up at the homes of unsuspecting residents — who, in recent cases, have been members of Congress and other elected officials.

A majority of Americans said they are worried about an increased danger of politically motivated violence in the United States, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll conducted around the 2022 midterm elections.

The threats also come as officials prepare to mark the third anniversary of the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection, when a pro-Trump mob overran the U.S. Capitol to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s electoral win. The unprecedented attack left five people dead, including a police officer and a woman shot by police. Two other officers who were on duty that day later died by suicide, and more than 100 officers were injured.

Holly Bailey, Patrick Marley and Azi Paybarah contributed to this report.

This post appeared first on The Washington Post

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