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Multiple threats Wednesday to Regional Justice Center in Kent
Two bomb threats and a mailed envelope with a suspicious white powder turned out to be false alarms Wednesday in two separate incidents at the Norm Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent.
The bomb-threat calls were made Wednesday morning to a King 5 television news tip line about explosive devices at the RJC, 401 Fourth Ave. N. In the afternoon, county mail clerks at the RJC opened an envelope that contained a white-powder substance. The bomb threats resulted in officials temporarily evacuating the RJC.
On Thursday, Kent Police detectives continued to investigate the two bomb-threat calls to the RJC, in an effort to identify the caller.
The U.S. Postal Inspectors Service continued to investigate Thursday where the envelope with the white powder came from. Tests of the material determined that it was a non-hazardous dietary supplement.
"There is no connection known," said Paul Petersen, Kent Police spokesman, on the bomb threat calls and the mailed envelope.
An array of fire and police agencies responded to the threats at the RJC.
A male voice called the King 5 news tip line at about 9 a.m. to warn of a bomb at the RJC, Petersen said. A male voice called King 5 again at about 9:30 a.m. to say a bomb would go off at 10 a.m. at the Regional Justice Center.
King County Sheriff's Office deputies responded, along with Kent police and fire departments.
Several hundred people were evacuated from the building. The connected county jail facility was put on lock-down.
Bomb dogs from the sheriff's office, Port of Seattle, and U.S. Customs searched the building and did not find anything. The building was re-opened at about 11 a.m.
Located inside the building are King County superior courts and judges, along with personnel from the sheriff's office and King County Prosecutor’s Office.
Kent detectives are working with King 5 officials and telephone companies in an effort to track the caller through the tip line, Petersen said.
"We believe the calls were made by the same person," Petersen said. "It was a male voice both times."
At about 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, county mail clerks opened an envelope that was mailed to the RJC (no specific person listed) and found a white-powder substance inside. Sheriff's deputies again responded and a unified command was established with the Kent Fire Department, Tukwila Fire Department, Boeing Fire Department, King County Jail, and U.S. Postal inspectors.
Eight people inside the building and in close proximity to the substance were isolated in an office. None of these people showed any medical symptoms of contamination. It was not believed that this substance posed an inhalation hazard and the rest of the building was not evacuated. The building's air circulation system was shut down as a precaution.
At about 4:15 p.m. Wednesday, a hazardous materials team entered the building and retrieved the suspicious substance. Tests of the material determined that it was a non-hazardous dietary supplement. The eight people inside the office were allowed to leave at about 5:30 p.m.