On Jan. 13 at 8:25 a.m., Charles County Sheriff's officers, with assistance from the Maryland State Police and La Plata Town Police, responded to the Charles County Courthouse, located at 200 Charles Street in La Plata, for the report of a bomb threat. A male suspect called 911 and said there were three bombs inside the Courthouse. He then terminated the call. By 8:55 a.m., officers had evacuated the Courthouse and the school next to it, Christ Church Day School, to the Charles County Government Building at 200 Baltimore Street behind the Courthouse. Officers closed the roads surrounding the Courthouse, including Charles Street from Kent Avenue to Crain Highway, and Washington Avenue from Charles Street to East Hawthorne Road and officers were stationed at the major intersections to facilitate the flow of traffic. Nearly 40 officers were involved in the incident.
Several K9 teams conducted a search of the Courthouse. They finished their search at about 10:15 a.m. and did not find any explosives. They subsequently conducted a search of the parking lot that also did not yield any explosives. At that point, the roadways were reopened. Officials determined the Courthouse would reopen at noon and those whose business was disrupted at the Courthouse were asked to return when it reopened.
The call originated from a payphone in the Pinefield Shopping Center in the 12500 block of Mattawoman Drive in Waldorf. A witness reported seeing a white man with dark brown hair using the payphone around the time the incident occurred. He was wearing a dark jacket and drove a light-colored sedan. Detectives have not determined the man made the phone call but are investigating whether he is connected to the incident. They are asking the for the public's help in identifying him.
Detectives are continuing the investigation of the threat and are asking anyone with information to call the Sheriff's Office at 301-932-2222. Those with information can report their tip anonymously through Charles County Crime Solvers by calling 1-866-411-TIPS. Crime Solvers offers rewards of up to $1,000 for information about a crime that leads to an arrest or indictment.
Det. D. Kelly and the Maryland State Fire Marshal's Office are investigating the incident.
"Bomb threats are a crime the Charles County Sheriff's Office takes seriously and investigates thoroughly and aggressively," said Charles County Sheriff Frederick E. Davis. "This incident forced activity in the heart of our town to come to an abrupt halt and disrupted the process of the criminal justice system in our community. I am proud of responders for swiftly addressing our first priority, which was to ensure the safety of those conducting business within the Courthouse."