BELTON, TEXAS — Someone threatened to bomb a county courthouse near Fort Hood unless officials met the “demands” of the Army psychiatrist charged in the 2009 shooting rampage on the Texas Army post, a sheriff said Wednesday.
After the Wednesday morning call that mentioned Maj. Nidal Hasan, law officers evacuated the historic courthouse and Bell County Justice Center but found nothing after searching extensively with bomb-sniffing dogs, Bell County Sheriff Eddy Lange said. The jail was put on lockdown.
Employees were allowed back inside the buildings a few hours later. The time that the caller said the bomb would explode at the courthouse had long expired, said city of Belton spokesman Paul Romer.
Bell County has a contract with nearby Fort Hood to house all of its defendants, including Hasan, because the Army post does not have holding facilities. Lange said this was the first threat related to Hasan, and it came a day after a military judge who reviewed the security plans for Hasan’s murder trial said she was unaware of any threat to any individual or group.
Hasan has made no demands of the jail staff, Lange said.
Hasan has not made any demands at court hearings. But he objected Tuesday to the judge’s denial of his “defense of others” strategy, which must show that killing was necessary to prevent the immediate harm or deaths of others. Hasan, an American-born Muslim, has said he shot U.S. troops because they were an imminent threat to Taliban leaders in Afghanistan.
The sheriff said Hasan was not at the jail Wednesday but was at Fort Hood, apparently doing research because he is serving as his own attorney.
Hasan, 42, faces execution or life without parole if convicted in the attack that left 13 dead and nearly three dozen wounded. Jury selection is to start in July, and testimony in the trial is set to begin in August at Fort Hood.