63ºF

Deputies: Homeless man causes bomb scare

Columbia County courthouse evacuated Monday over suspicious package

COLUMBIA COUNTY, Fla. – A homeless man has been arrested and charged with placing a hoax bomb outside the Columbia County courthouse, deputies said.

Tarrance Nichols, 43, is accused of leaving a package containing a plastic gun case on the courthouse steps Monday morning.

The suspicious package forced the evacuation of the courthouse.

The Columbia County Sheriff's Office said Nichols walked up to the courthouse at about 10:30 a.m. and placed the item near the entrance, then walked away. Video cameras showed Nichols placing a blue container near the top steps, looking up into the camera then walking away.

After he was found south of the courthouse and identified by witnesses, Nichols told deputies he left the package there to cause "distress."

The Alachua County Sheriff's Office sent bomb squad technicians to X-ray the package, and business resumed at the courthouse after the package was deemed safe.

The blue plastic container was empty.

Nichols was booked into the Columbia County Detention Facility with no bond.