Alex Murdaugh trial: Colleton County courthouse evacuated due to bomb threat

UPDATE: Reporters on the scene are saying that court personnel and attorneys began re-entering the courthouse around 2:30 p.m., but no official all-clear has been given.

A Colleton County Sheriff's Office deputy was seen sprinting across the grounds of the Colleton County Courthouse Wednesday, panic in his voice as he yelled for people to clear the area. As the Alex Murdaugh double-homicide trial went into day 13, the historic Walterboro courthouse square was evacuated due to a bomb threat.

Around 12:27 p.m., just a few short hours after the jury headed into the courtroom, Judge Clifton Newman ordered that the courtroom be evacuated for unknown reasons, until possibly 2:30 p.m., if everything is clear.

SLED has since confirmed that it was the result of a bomb threat, issuing a brief statement (see below). The S.C. Attorney General's Office confirmed that the threat was "phoned in," but had no further information or comment.

Murdaugh was taken from the courthouse and seen being driven from the property in a large black van, according to reports from journalists outside of the courthouse.

Lawyers have confirmed to journalists and author Jason Ryan, on the ground on behalf of The Hampton County Guardian, that this was a bomb threat. Ryan told The Guardian that law enforcement have not only evacuated the courthouse, but cleared the entire block of all reporters and public spectators. There is a heavy police presence in the area, and law enforcement have formed a perimeter around the courthouse square.

From SLED at the scene, "A bomb threat was received by Colleton County courthouse personnel. The building has been evacuated and SLED along with the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office are investigating the threat.No additional information is available from SLED at this time."

Ryan reports that Murdaugh's family members, including his surviving son, Richard "Buster" Murdaugh Jr., were among the first evacuated.

Court attendees exited the building from the front, sweeping stairs - the ones not normally used by the public.

Public attendees and bystanders are concerned, but not particularly surprised. Kim Lanier, who traveled from Virginia Beach, told Ryan that a bomb threat seemed "par for the course" for this story, similar to all the "ruses and distractions" made by Murdaugh in this case.

This is a breaking news report, check back for updates.

This article originally appeared on Greenville News: Alex Murdaugh trial Colleton County courtroom evacuated: What we know