Threat Spurs Bomb Sweep at Indiana Courthouse

Apr. 21--BROWNSTOWN -- A bomb-sniffing dog from the Indiana Capitol Police patrolled outside the Jackson County Courthouse around 12:40 p.m. A Seymour Police canine stood in the shadows upstairs, just in case.

A number of officers blocked the south sidewalk, keeping a path clear for the arrival of confessed killer Anthony Ray Stockelman of Seymour.

Inside the courthouse, four uniformed and plainclothes officers stood watching in the ground floor lobby.

Upstairs, other officers watched people come and go as three others checked those entering the courtroom for Stockelman's sentencing hearing at 1:30 p.m.

Inside the courtroom, more than a dozen officers lined both sides.

"That's probably the largest gathering of security I've encountered in my nearly 30 years of law enforcement," Sheriff Jerry Hounshel said today.

Security was tight for the emotional two and a half hour hearing, with about 20 officers inside the courtroom and 10 others outside. They were from the sheriff's department, Seymour and Crothersville police departments, the Indiana State Police and Indiana State Excise Police.

The nature of the case, combined with a bomb threat called into authorities earlier this week, prompted the heightened security, Jackson County Sheriff Jerry Hounshel said today.

"That's probably the largest gathering of security I've encountered in my nearly 30 years of law enforcement," Hounshel said.

"We had planned on having heavy security anyway, but that bomb threat brought in some extra," he added. "Everybody was real calm and peaceful."

The courtroom was packed with family and friends from both sides of the case, as well as other spectators.

Officers lined each side of the courtroom. Others were stationed behind Judge Bill Vance's bench. One kept himself between witnesses and Stockelman as they approached and left the witness stand.

A bomb-sniffing dog from the ISP's Capitol Police division was called in to check the courthouse and grounds, and Seymour Police Officer Ian McPherson's canine was called in to patrol upstairs.

Questioned about the bomb scare reported to Scott County Sheriff's Department earlier this week, Hounshel said it appears the caller was attempting to tell police he had heard a conversation that a bomb would be placed at the courthouse on Thursday.

"Apparently it was bogus," Hounshel said.

Security for Stockelman, however, is no longer a concern for the sheriff's department. He's no longer lodged at the Jackson County Jail.

"We shipped him immediately to the DOC at the Plainfield Diagnostic and Reception Center," Hounshel said.

Stockelman will likely stay at Plainfield for a few weeks to determine where he should be placed, Hounshel said.

<<The Tribune (Seymour, IN)(KRT) -- 04/24/06>>