Bomb scare leads to San Tan Valley Walmart evacuation - FOX 10 News | fox10phoenix.com

Bomb scare leads to San Tan Valley Walmart evacuation

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SAN TAN VALLEY, Ariz. -

It wasn't your typical day at the Walmart in San Tan Valley.  Hundreds were evacuated from the store and the bomb squad was called in after a pair of paint buckets were left at the store.

Police say between 500 and 1,000 people were evacuated -- some leaving their purses and keys behind, in a rush to get out.

A five gallon bucket of light blue paint sparked the evacuation of the Walmart at Hunt Highway and Gary Road.

Royce Harty said, "Certainly out of place."

Harty was one of the hundreds evacuated from the store after a shopper called the police around 1:30 p.m., concerned about the bucket.

"Some people were running, some people were screaming, some people were just calm, cool and collected," he said.

But it's what police saw on the store's surveillance video that they say was more concerning.

"They purposely set it there," said Sgt. Stormee Wallace of the Pinal County Sheriff's Office.

Police say they looked at surveillance video from the Walmart parking lot.  It showed an elderly man leaving the five gallon paint bucket in the parking lot, then taking a one gallon paint bucket and leaving it inside.

"Because of course with the unfortunate events that just occurred in Boston, we wanted to make sure we didn't have a secondary incident happen here.  We wanted to make sure we did everything they could to protect residents of San Tan Valley," said Wallace.

The paint can inside the store was not detonated, but x-rayed instead.  When it was determined there was only paint inside the buckets, police gave the all clear.

"Better safe than sorry, I guess," said Harty.

So after about two hours of being evacuated, everyone was let back into the store. 

Police say they're looking for the man who left the paint buckets to ask him why.

Sgt. Wallace said depending on the investigation, charges could be filed, but she couldn't tell me what those charges might be.

 

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