Maine Walmarts were evacuated on Saturday night after several stores received automated calls with bomb threats. At first, the bomb threats were thought to be only in the state of Maine, however, it is now being reported that stores in other states, including New York and Louisiana, also received bomb threats on Saturday night.
According to MS News Now, other Walmart stores had received bomb threats on Black Friday. Sadly, the retail chain is used to seeing bomb threats on Black Friday and the surrounding days, but the threats never stop shoppers from flooding back into the stores for their holiday shopping, and hunt for deals once the police gave the all-clear, signaling it was safe for customers to resume their shopping.
On Saturday, 11 stores in Maine received calls with bomb threats around 8 p.m. Cops were called in, and bomb sniffing dogs searched for bombs inside the stores. By 11 p.m., most of the stores were back open and shoppers were allowed inside to continue shopping.
— John Zelaski (@jzelaski) November 30, 2015
James Ross, chief deputy at the Somerset County Sheriff’s Department, spoke about the bomb threats in his county.
“It definitely was taken seriously. We had two deputies respond to Palmyra, and one deputy assisted at Skowhegan. When nothing was found, Wal-Mart made the decision to reopen. As events unfolded, we learned that a number of other Wal-Marts in the state had received the exact same threat. The sheriff’s office will be ready to assist other agencies if leads develop.”
According to the Bangor Daily News, Chief Joe McKenna, of the Houlton Police Department, also spoke with the media about the Walmart bomb threats.
“The caller sounded male, but like a computer generated voice and stated there was a bomb in the [Houlton] Wal-Mart. We dispatched fire and police, made contact with [Wal-Mart] management and swept the building but nothing unusual was found. Given that eight other stores were called and the nature of the call, we are pretty confident it was a crank call. They all came in about the same time frame.”
Brian Nick, a spokesperson for Walmart, told the media in Maine that bomb threats at Walmart stores around Black Friday are normal. This year, stores in Wyoming, Idaho, and South Dakota, received threats on Friday. Last year, a store in Bentonville was shut down briefly after a phoned in bomb threat on Black Friday.
Automated bomb threat causes Walmart evacuations across Maine https://t.co/3rZyQOxLzV pic.twitter.com/9DqUB9PrlD
— KSDK NewsChannel 5 (@ksdknews) November 29, 2015
Black Friday is traditionally the start of the holiday shopping season, but things are changing in recent years. With online shopping becoming more and more popular, retailers are starting the big sales earlier and earlier each year. This year, some retailers, like Best Buy and Walmart, opened their stores on Thanksgiving night. For online shoppers, they could start tackling those Black Friday deals online as early as midnight on November 26.
Shoppers did not allow the bomb threats on Saturday night to stop them from shopping on Sunday. In fact, some shoppers were upset on Saturday night after some stores remained closed after the police searched them. The store in Houlton did not reopen until Sunday morning.
According to CentralMaine.com, one shopper, Molly Staples, said on Sunday that, “You can’t let fear keep you home.” She was exiting the store with her husband and three children.
Another Walmart shopper, Amber Richardson, also spoke with the media, and she shared the same sentiment.
“I don’t let things scare me. I don’t let it affect me as much as possible. It didn’t really bother me. I was kind of shocked to hear about it. I was just buying groceries today — the essentials and a little bit of Christmas shopping.”
The police are still investigating the bomb threats, but it is not likely the source of the calls will be found.
What do you think of the Walmart Black Friday bomb threats? Would it stop you from shopping at your favorite store afterward?
[Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images]