The court hearing resumed on Wednesday at 3:07 p.m. after law officials had finished clearing the area. As details emerge about a probable suspect or potential changes to court procedure or security, we will update this item accordingly. According to reporters at the site, court employees and lawyers started returning to the courtroom at around 2:30 p.m., but there has been no official all-clear yet.
On Wednesday, a member of the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office was observed running across the Colleton County Courthouse grounds, terror in his voice as he called for everyone to get out of the area. The 13th day of the double murder trial for Alex Murdaugh saw the historic Walterboro courthouse square evacuated due to a bomb threat.
Just a few hours after the jury entered the courtroom, at 12:27 p.m., Judge Clifton Newman issued an order to leave the courtroom until, if everything is clear, 2:30 p.m. SLED has already issued a statement confirming that a bomb threat was to blame (see below). The SC AG’s office stated that the threat was “phoned in,” but offered no further details or commentary.
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Reports from journalists outside the courthouse indicate that Murdaugh was taken from the building and drove away in a large black van. Lawyers have confirmed to reporters and The Hampton County Guardian contributor Jason Ryan on the ground that this was in fact a bomb threat.
According to Ryan of The Guardian, the police have not only cleared the courthouse of reporters and spectators, but they have cleared the entire block. Law enforcement has built a cordon around the courtroom plaza and is present in large numbers.
Based on information gathered by SLED on the scene,
“A bomb threat was received by Colleton County courthouse personnel. The building has been evacuated and SLED along with the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office are investigating the threat. No additional information is available from SLED at this time.”
According to Ryan, Murdaugh’s family members, including his surviving son Richard “Buster” Murdaugh Jr., were among the first to leave the area. People leaving the courtroom did so via the building’s front, sweeping staircases, which are not generally used by the general public.
People in the audience seem worried, but not overly astonished. An eyewitness named Kim Lanier who came all the way from Virginia Beach told Ryan that the bomb threat was “par for the course” for the narrative, considering all the “ruses and distractions” Murdaugh had already created in the case.