Customers shopping at Walmart on New Franklin Road were buying groceries and looking for a few good deals on Christmas gifts Monday. They ended up getting a little more than they bargained for when store personnel circulated throughout the building and evacuated everyone after police received a phone call about a bomb threat inside the facility.
According to reports, at 3:26 p.m an Officer Michael Belcher of the LaGrange Police Department was contacted by E-911 in reference to an anonymous call that there was a bomb inside of Walmart.
E-911 reported that an anonymous caller, that they believed to be a juvenile, said “There’s a bomb inside of Walmart.” followed by an explicit phrase before hanging up the phone. The call could not be traced and they had no time reference.
Belcher then arrived at Walmart and spoke with loss prevention, Mike McArdle. Once informed about the situation, McArdle contacted the store manager and the decision to evacuate the store was made. The announcement was made over the store speaker for the need to evacuate. The store management team conducted a quick check to ensure that everyone was out of the building, then helped moved the evacuees away from the building.
“We were notified by the local police department that a call came in to them,” store manager Keith Owen said while standing in the parking lot. “For precautionary reasons, we’ve evacuated the store and let them check some things out. We moved fast and haven’t really had a chance to find out the full scope of what was on the call or whatever.”
More officers arrived at the scene to assist with the crowd outside the store. Troup County Sheriff’s Office, Muscogee County and Phenix City, Ala., officers arrived with their K-9 to assist with the search of the building.
No explosives were found and the store was reopened.
McArdle had noted that the Walmart in Austell had received a similar call months ago, that was traced back to a location in Dallas.
Customers and employees could be seen milling about, chatting and exchanging ideas on the possible cause for the investigation, but nobody seemed to have a clear idea of what was going on.