By Doug Ireland
---- — BRENTWOOD — Authorities are searching for a man they believe threatened to blow up Rockingham Superior Court on Tuesday because he didn’t want to be sentenced.
Arrest warrants have been issued for Jonathan Long, 27, of Somersworth in connection with the 911 call that closed the courthouse for nearly three hours and forced the evacuation of approximately 100 people, according to Maj. Al Brackett of the Rockingham County Sheriff’s Department.
Long was to be sentenced on a felony conviction for falsifying evidence. He tried to get out of jail early when serving time on another charge.
Long forged a letter, purportedly from a doctor, saying he needed to be released to be with his sick child, Brackett said yesterday. Long was scheduled to be sentenced Tuesday morning.
When arrested, he will be charged with failure to appear in court and also with creating a false public alarm, a felony punishable by a state prison sentence, Brackett said. If he is caught, Brackett said, Long would be held without bail.
The call was traced to Long after an investigator recognized his voice from the 911 recording.
Long was spotted outside the courthouse Wednesday while approximately 20 investigators and three state police dogs searched the property, Brackett said.
”We found witnesses who saw him outside the courthouse after the bomb threat was called in,” Brackett said.
Nothing was found inside the courthouse, Sheriff Michael Downing said.
The threat was called in at 8:54 a.m. and bailiffs immediately evacuated the three-story building. They ordered the public to remain at least 100 feet way, asking some people to move their cars.
Those waiting outside in the cold and brief rain expressed frustration as they waited to go back inside. Many retreated to the warmth of their cars, including lawyers who consulted with clients or reviewed paperwork.
The building reopened at about 11:45 a.m., but the three-hour delay caused some confusion and a big case backlog, Superior Court Clerk Raymond Taylor said. Some jurors would likely have to serve an extra day of jury duty, he said.
“It does push everything back,” Taylor said. “But we will make it work.”
The Sheriff’s Department is seeking the public’s help in finding Long. Anyone with information is asked to call Sgt. Jay Murphy at 679-9495 or Detective Kevin Gelineau at 679-9596.