EBENSBURG - Police have arrested two suspects in connection with a bomb threat that closed the Cambria County Courthouse for hours Tuesday.
Ebensburg Borough Police Chief Terry Wyland said a Johnstown man and his girlfriend were arrested within hours of the threat being made to the county emergency dispatch center about 8:45 a.m. - prompting the courthouse to be evacuated while Richland Township and Blair County Sheriff's Office bomb-detection dogs swept the building for explosives.
Wyland said the suspect admitted to telling dispatchers there was a bomb in the courthouse and that people needed to leave the building, or there would be casualties. A tape of the call might be released today, he said.
Officials later identified the suspect as Stephen Jablonski, 46, of Johnstown's Moxham neighborhood. His girlfriend's name has not yet been released.
Court documents show no open cases against Jablonski. The county Common Pleas Court was awaiting his completion of an Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program as part of a November 2013 driving under the influence and public drunkenness case against him.
But Sheriff Bob Kolar said Jablonski's girlfriend was scheduled to appear before Cambria County Judge Norman Krumenacker III Tuesday morning on a probation violation and for a retail theft sentencing.
Krumenacker had sentenced two women Monday to serve state prison time for crimes similar to Jablonski's girlfriend's, Kolar said. The women sentenced Monday were repeat offenders, as is Jablonski's girlfriend, he said, and it might have influenced Jablonski to make the threats.
"Sounds likely to me," Kolar said.
A little after noon, the courthouse was cleared, and employees were allowed to return. Hearings were delayed about three hours because of the threat.
"We're open for normal business now, and the court's docket will be run," said President Commissioner Douglas Lengenfelder.
Lengenfelder said he appreciated the cooperation and understanding from employees, as well as the work of outside police forces that assisted borough police.
An investigation into the threats is ongoing.
Lengenfelder, who retired as a colonel after 30 years in the Air Force, said those responsible will be prosecuted.
"When I was a commander in the Philippines, we were being bombed once every three days. I take these things very seriously," he said. "We want people to know that safety is our No. 1 priority and concern, and we're not going to mess around with this. It's something that you don't want to mess around with.