Bomb threat empties Walmart

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Walmart officials coordinate after Saturday’s evacuation. (Photo by KEITH KINNAIRD)

PONDERAY — An extortion-related bomb threat forced the evacuation of the Walmart Supercenter on Saturday afternoon.

The store received the threat at about 12:15 p.m.

Three dog-handling teams from the Transportation Security Administration in Spokane helped search the store, according to Ponderay Police Chief Mike Hutter.

“We swept the entire Walmart and did not locate a device,” said Hutter.

The store was set to reopen at about 6 p.m.

An initial report indicated that cash was demanded, but Hutter declined to elaborate on the nature of the threat, who it was directed against or what was demanded.

“It’s still under investigation,” he said.

However, Hutter said the threat coincided with an attempted extortion.

“It was more than just a bomb threat,” Hutter said, adding that the Federal Bureau of Investigation is also probing the incident.

Bonner County Sheriff’s Deputies and Ponderay Police sealed off entrances to the store’s parking lot to keep shoppers away, although store customers were permitted to leave the grounds.

There were no reports of injuries during the evacuation.

The bomb threat in Ponderay occurred a day after a similar threat was received at a Walmart in Garden City, although Hutter said it was not immediately clear if the two incidents were connected.

Bomb threats at three Walmarts in Maine were also received on Friday, according to the Bangor Daily News. A bomb threat on Friday also emptied a Walmart in Hallandale Beach, Fla., NBC Miami reported.

On Wednesday, a bomb threat forced the evacuation of a Walmart in Laramie, Wyo., according to the Laramie Boomerang.

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