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Strangely wrapped briefcase forces courthouse shutdown

A threatening-looking briefcase that turned out to be harmless forced the evacuation of the Grove Street Courthouse and a three-hour shutdown on Monday.

At 11:22 a.m. someone brought a briefcase into the Henderson County Courthouse wrapped in clear plastic tape with a note attached and directed to one of the offices and staff inside the courthouse, officials said. Security guards intercepted the briefcase and X-rayed it. After the X-rays proved inconclusive yet suspicious as to its contents, authorities ordered the courthouse evacuated and closed the road around it.

The Sheriff's Office bomb squad assisted by the State Bureau of Investigation was called after the X-ray revealed suspicious components similar to an explosive containment package.

The briefcase was removed from the courthouse by a remote control robot and taken by the bomb containment unit to an off-site location for further investigation. The briefcase was opened and investigators found a tape recorder wrapped in thick, heavy plastic.

No specific threats were made by the person delivering the briefcase and after being detained and questioned by investigators he was released. Charges have not been filed and do not appear likely at this time, the sheriff's department said in a news release.

The courthouse was reopened shortly after 3 in the afternoon.