Walmart employees and customers outside in the retailer’s parking lot after being evacuated from the building on Monday, March 26.
Midday Monday, March 26 dozens of Walmart employees and customers were herded into the parking lot of the Jasper mega-retailer following a bomb hoax that is now under investigation.
According to City of Jasper Police Chief Greg Lovell, a Walmart custodian found a note in one of the bathrooms that said a bomb was in the building. The note had a smiley face drawn on it, he said.
According to one shopper who had been evacuated, customers were instructed over the intercom to leave the building.
“They said everybody get out, and people started running up towards the front of the store,” the woman said, who along with many other customers waited outside to reenter the store. “They didn’t tell us what was going on, so we’re just waiting here.”
Lovell said Jasper police and fire crews responded and searched the building but found nothing suspicious.
“Until a suspicious device is found it is up to the owners on whether or not they want to evacuate the business,” he said.
Police cannot evacuate a building until a threatening device is found.
The note was taken into evidence and the police are working with Walmart to review security videos, although because of privacy issues there are no cameras inside the restrooms.
Lovell noted that if the person who wrote the note is found, he or she will face multiple and very serious charges.
Lovell said the number of counts are determined by the number of emergency responders called to the scene, which he said was considerable in this case.