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Florida law-enforcement officials on Thursday arrested a 61-year-old man who they say made a false bomb threat against the Florida Capitol in the wee hours of the night.
The 3 a.m. bomb threat led Capitol police and explosive-sniffing police dogs to do a sweep of the Capitol complex, which includes the state Capitol, the Historic Capitol as well as Senate and House office buildings. No explosives or suspicious devices were found in the area, officials said.
Later in the day, the Tallahassee Police Department announced officers had arrested Mark Wayne Clark on suspicion of making the false bomb threat. Clark was detained at a sports bar three miles from the Capitol and taken into custody, police said.
“This arrest is the result of collaborative efforts between the Tallahassee Police Department, Capitol Police and Florida Department of Law Enforcement agents working with the Joint Terrorism Task Force and the Leon County Sheriff’s Office,” Florida law-enforcement officials said in a joint statement.
“Any threat against a government official or building is unlawful,” officials added.
Florida law-enforcement officials have been on high alert over the past week following a warning from the FBI that violent pro-Trump protests could take place around Inauguration Day.
The FBI warned in a bulletin that protesters supporting former President Donald Trump, emboldened by the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 that left five dead, could take their hostility to statehouses, and protests could turn violent.
In preparation for potential protests, Gov. Ron DeSantis last week issued an executive order that activated the Florida National Guard to assist FDLE and local police in their efforts to “protect the state, its citizens, and public buildings and property from any potential civil unrest.” His executive order remains in effect until Sunday.
In recent days, the Florida Capitol had been quiet and void of any violent protests.
Following the bomb threat on Thursday, state employees were asked to avoid the Capitol until 9 a.m. “out of an abundance of caution,” FDLE officials said. The Capitol complex is secure, but remains closed to the public due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Miami Herald reporter Michelle Marchante contributed to this report.