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Windows shatter in new downtown courthouse

A canopy has been set up to protect pedestrians until officials figure out a cause.

SAN DIEGO — A scary and unexpected problem is now happening at the San Diego County courthouse downtown.  

Glass windows on the building have been shattering, but no one knows why.

Completed in 2017, at a cost of more than $500 million, the 22-story courthouse is considered one of downtown's premier buildings.

But, over the last several months, it’s lost some of that luster as multiple windows have shattered, putting pedestrians in danger of falling glass.

"I had no idea that there's glass falling," said Precious Sperry.

Sperry walks by the courthouse often with her kids and says she thought the scaffolding and canopies that are now surrounding it were part of a construction project.

Turns out, they were installed to protect pedestrians like her.

According to a spokesperson for the California Judicial Council, which owns the building, glass has broken on four separate occasions over the past six months.

The first incident happened when a large glass pane on the 14th floor shattered on May 16 of this year.

On July 5th, another pane, this one on the 10th floor, also shattered in place.

Then, on August 4th, a window broke and fell, landing on an unoccupied rooftop service area on the 4th floor.

And last month, on October 24th, a small interior pane broke on the 6th floor but stayed intact.

The Judicial Council spokesperson tells CBS 8, "The Judicial Council has retained forensic experts to analyze the cause of the spontaneous glass breakage at the building, including the most recent incident on October 24th. Once the Judicial Council receives the experts' analysis and recommendations, we will evaluate those recommendations and will move forward as appropriate."

Coincidentally, it's not the first time a similar issue has come up at the courthouse.

In 2018, shortly after opening, the sidewalk on B street was shut down due to a broken window.

That same year, the court had to replace windows in 22 judges' chambers because of extensive cracking.

Regarding these latest incidents, the broken glass has all been replaced except on the 6th floor.

Supply chain issues have led to some delays.

The Judicial Council expects to install the replacement glass in early 2023 and will work with the contractor to recover all costs.

So, until that's done, and the council figures out the cause, the canopy will remain.

The exact timing, however, is still unknown.

“It's like safe for us in the long run because if they didn't have this up anybody could get hurt,” said Sperry.

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