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Bomb threat shuts down Niagara County Courthouse

LOCKPORT – The Niagara County Courthouse is closed for the day after a telephoned bomb threat received in the court office shortly before 2:30 p.m. Friday.

Everyone in the building was ordered to leave, the parking lot was emptied and police blocked all the intersections near the Courthouse, located at Park Avenue and Hawley Street in Lockport.

The building is to be searched by bomb-sniffing dogs, which as of an hour after the evacuation had not arrived.

Niagara County Undersheriff Michael J. Filicetti said, “Our dog is here, but we needed more resources. It’s a big building to search with one canine.”

Lockport Police Detective Lt. Todd Chenez said residents within “a couple of blocks” of the Courthouse were warned via robocalls of the closing. Police also issued an online notice to nearby residents to stay indoors.

Some work continued, however, as two real estate closings were done on picnic tables in Ida Fritz Park, across the street from the Courthouse.

The building was shut down just as County Judge Sara Sheldon was taking the bench for her Friday afternoon session. The highest-profile case of the day was to be a sentencing for James F. Ashley of Niagara Falls, who had pleaded guilty to possessing 3 kilos of cocaine, valued at more than $100,000. However, Ashley, his girlfriend and his attorneys all were in the building when the evacuation was ordered. They and all other defendant’s not currently in jail were told to leave and call Monday about rescheduling cases.

The building was officially closed for the day shortly before 3 p.m.

Filicetti and Chenez said they did not know the full contents of the threatening call.

email: tprohaska@buffnews.com

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