Alex Murdaugh Trial Interrupted by Bomb Threat: 'This Is Very Serious'

The Colleton County Courthouse has been evacuated and Alex Murdaugh has been transported to a safe location

Alec Murdaugh trial Bomb Threat
Photo: Steve Helling

The murder trial of Alex Murdaugh has been adjourned after the courthouse received a bomb threat on Wednesday afternoon.

Just before 12:30 p.m., Judge Clifton Newman abruptly dismissed the jurors for a "break." After they filed out, he addressed the rest of the gallery, saying, "We have to evacuate the building at this time. We'll be in recess until we discover what's going on."

He gave no further details. As onlookers filed out, police officers urged everyone to leave in an orderly fashion.

PEOPLE was in the courtroom during the evacuation; as onlookers congregated on the sidewalk outside the courthouse, officers had everyone cross the street to be further away from the building.

Officials confirm to PEOPLE that the Colleton County courthouse had received a bomb threat, but are not sharing further details.

"This is very serious," a Colleton County police officer tells PEOPLE. "Until we know what's going on, everyone needs to stay a safe distance away."

Alec Murdaugh trial Bomb Threat
Steve Helling

PEOPLE confirms that Alex Murdaugh was evacuated from the building via a different route than usual. His family was also ushered out a back exit, where they got into SUVs and drove away. Courthouse employees and trial watchers stood outside the courthouse as police set up a perimeter.

Bomb squads from nearby jurisdictions have arrived at the courthouse and will do a thorough sweep of the building before allowing civilians back inside.

It's unclear when court will resume, and what effect -- if any -- the bomb threat will have on the trial.

Alec Murdaugh trial Bomb Threat
Steve Helling

"This is terrifying," says Shanell Taylor, who was in the courthouse at the time of the evacuation. "I didn't think that I'd be in any danger in the courthouse."

Murdaugh, 54, has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder and two related weapons charges stemming from the 2021 shooting deaths of his wife, Maggie, and son, Paul. He has pleaded not guilty.

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