PITTSBURGH, PA – More than 250 people were evacuated from a Pittsburgh court house on Monday after a bomb threat was called in. After a police investigation, detectives learned the call was made by a homeless man living in West Park on the city’s north side.
Todaym, Allegheny County Sheriff Kevin Kraus announced an arrest made in the Monday, August 15th, 2022 reported bomb threat at the Allegheny County Courthouse located at 436 Grant Street in downtown Pittsburgh. On August 15th at 8:47AM, Allegheny County 911 Center received a telephone call from an individual who stated on a recorded line that there was a bomb going to explode at the Courthouse that morning.
“The call was made from a cellular telephone that can only activate a 911 call in case of emergency. It was later learned that the call was made from West Park in the City’s Northside. The Courthouse was evacuated in an abundance of caution. More than approximately 250 people were forced to leave the building,” Sheriff Kraus said. “
The Sheriff’s Office immediately initiated an investigation into this threat and multiple Sheriff’s detectives and supervisors were assigned to the case. There were multiple law enforcement agencies (Sheriffs, City of Pittsburgh, University of Pittsburgh, Allegheny County Police and a Mercer County Sheriff’s Deputy) that responded and provided explosive detection K9s to collectively and efficiently clear the building and deem the Courthouse safe. This process took approximately an hour and a half before everyone was allowed reentry.”
According to Kraus, during the course of the investigation, detectives sifted through many potential suspects, eliminating numerous individuals. Later that day on August 15th detectives gathered information and identified Brandon Hipps, 21, homeless, as a priority suspect.
“It was learned that Hipps was supposed to appear that day before the Honorable Bruce Beemer on a bench warrant for failing to appear for a probation hearing stemming from an Assault conviction,” Kraus added.
According to a report by the Sheriff’s office, on August 16th detectives developed information that Hipps frequents the downtown area of the city, specifically Market Square. After hours of surveillance, Hipps was located at the corner of Market Square and Forbes Avenue.
Hipps was arrested on the warrants and searched incident to arrest. He was found to be in possession of two cellular devices. Hipps was transported back to the Sheriff’s Investigations Division for questioning. Hipps was given his Miranda rights and he agreed to questioning.
This interview was audio and video recorded. Hipps stated that he called in the bomb threat at the Courthouse because he didn’t want to go to court that day. Hipps provided the location where he made the call, which matched the call information.
“We played the audio recording of the 911 call and he stated that was his voice. We strongly believe one of the two cell phones recovered at the time of his arrest was the one used to place the threat,” police said.