February 3

Bomb threat shuts down Skowhegan Walmart for second time in a week

Police have blocked off the store parking lot and will be searching the property.

By Doug Harlow dharlow@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

SKOWHEGAN — The local Walmart was evacuated because of a bomb threat Monday afternoon, the second time in less than a week.

click image to enlarge

CRIME SCENE: A Maine State Police trooper and police dog enter the front of the Walmart store in Skowhegan on Monday, Feb. 3, 2014, after a bomb threat was reported less than a week after an earlier one. Employees and customers were not allowed in the store as police searched the building.

Staff photo by David Leaming

click image to enlarge

THREAT: Skowhegan and Maine State Police responded to the Walmart store in Skowhegan for a bomb threat report on Monday, Feb. 3, 2014. It was the second threat in less than a week at the company.

Staff photo by David Leaming

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The threat was called in at the same time of the day as a similar call to the store at Fairgrounds Market Place last Tuesday, Skowhegan Police Chief Ted Blais said.

“Oddly enough, or coincidentally enough, it was exactly 2:05 — just like last time,” Blais said of the call.

Both times, Blais said, the caller sounded like a young man who said there was a bomb in one of the men’s rooms at the store.

Skowhegan police closed off the front of the building while a fire truck and ambulance blocked off the parking lot entrance. A Maine State Police trooper arrived with a bomb-sniffing dog and searched the outside and the inside of the building, but no bomb was found.

David Mercier of Athens said he was in the store shopping when an announcement was made over the store’s intercom.

“I heard them say it was ‘code blue’ and everybody booked it out of the store,” Mercier said. “Some of the shoppers knew what a code blue was and some of them just decided to continue shopping, like myself. I left my stuff in the store. I left my receipt in the bag, but I do have my change — I grabbed that.”

Mercier’s bag later was brought out to him in the parking lot by a store employee.

Blais said police have the telephone number used to call in the threat and will begin issuing subpoenas to the phone’s network provider to track the person in whose name the number is listed.

He said calling in a bomb threat is a misdemeanor crime — raising a false public alarm — punishable by up to a year in jail and possibly an order to pay restitution to Walmart and to the town of Skowhegan for having to send police, fire and ambulance personnel. Blais said restitution could cost thousands of dollars.

The store was closed for about 90 minutes Monday.

Before last week’s threat, the Skowhegan Walmart, along with the Walmart in Augusta, were both closed by a bomb threat in December 2010. There was another bomb threat at the Skowhegan store in October 2011.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367 dharlow@centralmaine.com Twitter: @Doug_Harlow
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