A bomb threat emailed to the Nantucket Probate Court Thursday morning prompted the evacuation of the Town & County Building on Broad Street and a multi-agency response to the downtown area.
The threat landed in the inbox of Nantucket Probate Court clerk Sarah Maxwell at 9:54 a.m. It read "I placed multiple explosives inside of your Court, but also inside of every Court within your state. The explosives are well hidden and they will go off in a few hours. You will all end up dead."
Maxwell told the Current she and her staff immediately took action.
"It looked like spam but we obviously had to take it seriously so we called our Chief Justice and we went over and got Officer (Jerry) Mack and he looked at it and we evacuated the building," Maxwell said.
The Nantucket Police Department responded to the Town & County Building with multiple officers and detectives, along with Massachusetts State Police Troopers and the Nantucket Fire Department. They blocked off all the roads around the building and kept people 300 feet away.
Nantucket Police Department Lt. Angus MacVicar said similar threats had been received by other Massachusetts communities over the past three days.
"The Probate Court received an email that had a threatening message in it and said there was a potential bomb in the building that had been placed there," Lt. Angus MacVicar told the Current. "They called police dispatch and we evacuated the building, closed the streets. We spoke to the Mass State Police Bomb Squad, Sgt. Qualls, who comes out here quite often and we have a good working relationship with him, so we advised them of the situation. He reached out and determined the email was similar, almost exactly, to other areas in Massachusetts that had received one. That was good in the sense that most likely, because it was the exact wording, it was a hoax.
"His recommendation was to do a thorough building search through all cabinets, closets, containers, trash cans, and if there was anything suspicious we would pull out, to have the bomb squad respond with a bomb dog," MacVicar continued. "We did all that, we checked every cabinet, every door, every closet, and didn't find anything suspicious."
The building was reopened to employees just after 11 a.m.
Email bomb threats have targeted state capitols around the country in recent days, prompting the FBI to issue a statement regarding the situation.
"The FBI is aware of the numerous hoax incidents wherein a bomb threat at a state Capitol building is made," the FBI said in a statement. "The FBI takes hoax threats very seriously because it puts innocent people at risk.
"While we have no information to indicate a specific and credible threat, we will continue to work with our local, state, and federal law enforcement partners to gather, share, and act upon threat information as it comes to our attention," the statement continued.
The email threat sent to the Nantucket Probate Court, obtained by the Current, was done so by a group that instructed recipients to "give our group's name to the media or we won't stop causing chaos." We are declining to name the group at this point.