Bomb scare defused

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 6, 2002

It might be a bomb. Maybe.

It could go off. Maybe.

Somebody had to check it out. Absolutely.

The Federal Courthouse was evacuated briefly Thursday after a suspicious briefcase was discovered sitting next to a parked car on the Lauderdale Street side of the building.

According to Sgt. Randy Tucker of the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department, the briefcase was discovered about noon. It was sitting on the ground, next to an unoccupied Cadillac DeVille.

Authorities were notified and sheriff’s deputies and units of the Selma police and fire departments then sealed off the area surrounding the courthouse. Those inside the courthouse were evacuated.

Curious onlookers began to gather &045;&045; at a safe distance &045;&045; and to speculate about what was happening as authorities contemplated what to do about the briefcase. It was a squat, black, fabric-covered item of the size utilized by attorneys appearing in court. It appeared as though it had seen a good bit of wear and tear.

Eventually, Sheriff Harris Huffman Jr. took matters into his own hands and carefully opened the briefcase. As it turned out, it was filled with nothing more dangerous than legal papers.

Afterward, Huffman said he was fairly certain prior to deciding to go ahead and open it that the briefcase was harmless.

Asked if Selma has a bomb squad to handle such incidents, the sheriff replied, &uot;You’re looking at him.&uot;

Huffman noted that federal bankruptcy court is in session this week and that, most likely, an attorney inadvertently left the briefcase behind. &uot;We figure some lawyer either won his case and was so happy he forgot his briefcase,&uot; Huffman said, &uot;or else he lost his case and was so mad he forgot it.&uot;

After it was determined the briefcase was indeed harmless, courthouse employees were allowed to return to their jobs. As they filed into the courthouse, one of the employees was heard to say, &uot;Somebody’s really going to be embarrassed about this one.&uot;