WALTERBORO, S.C. (WCBD) – The Colleton County Courthouse was evacuated Wednesday afternoon due to a “credible threat” that was later determined to be a bomb threat.
The threat came during witness testimony in the Alex Murdaugh double murder trial shortly before 12:30 p.m.
News 2’s Riley Benson was inside the courtroom when Judge Clifton Newman received word about the potential threat. Benson said he started to hear chatter coming from the bailiffs’ walkie-talkie.
He said a law enforcement official then entered the courtroom and whispered something to Judge Newman. The judge then sent the jury into recess and the entire building immediately began to evacuate. News media was told to move away from the building.
A News 2 photographer said that law enforcement was sweeping gear on the lawn of the courthouse earlier in the day.
Officials with the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division later said a bomb threat was received by Colleton County courthouse personnel.
“The building has been evacuated and SLED along with the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office are investigating the threat,” officials said.
Witness testimony resumed around 3:00 p.m. after the courthouse was cleared. The judge did not address the threat or evacuation when returning to session.
Meanwhile, sources tell News 2 that the threat is believed to have come from a male caller from out of state who said there was a bomb in the judge’s chambers. Authorities are working to trace the call.