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Prank call prompts Walmart evacuation, no charges yet

The Washington Walmart was evacuated Sunday afternoon after juveniles called in a threat to the store.

“At approximately 3 p.m. this afternoon, Walmart received a phone call from an individual requesting a specific item. After they were told they didn’t have that particular item, they hung up the phone and then called back, and said they were coming to Walmart with a military vehicle they had stolen and were going to run it into Walmart,” Washington Police and Fire Services Chief Stacy Drakeford said on Sunday.

Around 3:15 p.m., store management made the decision to evacuate the store as a precaution, and a large police presence could be seen at the Carolina Avenue location. According to one witness, it took a few minutes for shoppers to take the evacuation announcement seriously—though store employees were telling shoppers about a called-in threat and were asking everyone to get out of the building, they were ignored at first. But by the time police arrived at the scene, people had begun leaving the building.

Police quickly determined the threat to Walmart was called in from a cellphone within the city limits of Washington, and the callers were juveniles “playing on the phone,” according to Drakeford.

“We determined who the juveniles are, and we are still investigating to determine if any charges will be filed,” Drakeford said Sunday.

The store was reopened at 4:20 p.m. Sunday.

Though the end result in this case was children making a prank call, on Monday Drakeford said if an announcement is made to evacuate a building or event, people should heed it immediately.

“Pay attention to the announcement and follow the directions. Even though we live in a small community, we still can be affected by events like active shooters, bomb threats or any acts of violence. Just because we’re a small city doesn’t exclude us from that potentially happening here,” Drakeford said. “This stuff can happen here.”