Deputies evacuated the Stanislaus County Courthouse in downtown Modesto on Monday morning after they found a suspicious suitcase just outside the metal detectors in the lobby. About 90 minutes later, bomb squad officials determined there was nothing explosive inside.
The deputies found the suitcase shortly after 7 a.m. Staff will sometimes find trash or other items in the area near the metal detectors, but never had found a suitcase.
Rebecca Fleming, court executive officer, said the suitcase didn’t belong to anyone, so the deputies quickly evacuated the building.
Only employees were inside the courthouse; the doors are opened to the public at 8 a.m. The judges were notified about the package about 7:30.
Modesto police closed 11th Street between H and I streets. Some employees stood outside on the courthouse lawn along I Street as they waited for more information.
The sheriff’s bomb squad arrived and entered the building through its 11th Street entrance. They examined the suitcase and found nothing explosive inside.
About 8:30 a.m., the courthouse staff was told it was safe to go back inside the building. As soon as employees were able to return to work, the public was allowed to go inside, as well.
Monday morning was the second time the courthouse has been evacuated in the past three months.
In late April, authorities evacuated a few hundred people from the courthouse after a sewer main became clogged. Sewage water spilled into the courthouse hallways and flooded portions of the building’s basement floor.
The building remained closed for a few hours while crews cleaned up the mess and repaired the clogged main.