A phoned-in bomb threat this morning at the Maricopa County Superior Court had some folks wondering about a possible tie to negative news about Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
An earlier bomb threat at the court last month followed the jailing of Adam Stoddard, the detention officer Sheriff Arpaio claimed was the victim of a vendetta by a judge under investigation.
Today's threat cleared the court's East Building and disrupted numerous proceedings, (including a sentencing hearing we had planned to attend). People were allowed to get in starting at about 11 a.m.
A couple of court staffers walking into the Central Building suggested -- albeit with smirks on their faces -- that the threat may have meant that Arpaio didn't like the prominent headline in the Arizona Republic this morning announcing an apparent grand jury investigation into the sheriff's alleged abuse of power. We had the story yesterday, based on a Channel 5 report, in our Feathered Bastard blog. The Republic story also followed the broadcast by KPHO-TV news on Thursday night.
The threat was made from a pay phone at 90th Avenue and Camelback, Phoenix police told another TV station this morning.
The coincidence of timing in each threat is interesting, though no evidence ties them to any suspect -- much less a suspect who also happens to be affiliated with the Sheriff's Office. Yet it's the MCSO that's investigating the December 2 threat, which seems like a potential conflict of interest to us.
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In December, the caller hinted his actions were to send a threat to the Public Defender's office. He said he was going to "set something off," but he didn't know which building he would "do," according to a recent Arizona Republic article. The following day, he called back to apologize for disrupting the court -- and stated another threat at the same time. He told the 911 operator he was making the call on behalf of non-English-speaking friends.
The December call was made from a payphone outside the courthouse -- but apparently not in view of any of the surveillance cameras cover the court building's exterior.
Whoever is making these bomb threats, one thing is clear: disrupting the county's busiest court building is way too easy.