Bomb squad called to Beaufort Walmart after suspicious objects found in vehicles

mmcnab@islandpacket.comMay 9, 2013 

Beaufort police set a perimeter around several cars officers and a bomb squad were investiagating after four suspicious items were found in them.


A suspicious package found inside a car in the parking lot of the Beaufort Walmart was blown up in a "controlled demolition" Thursday by members of the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office bomb squad.

The package was detonated by the bomb squad around 2:40 p.m., about three hours after being found in a car used by five men arrested for shoplifting from the Walmart on Robert Smalls Parkway.

Officers arrested the suspects in the store's parking lot at about 11:50 a.m. Inside their Chevrolet Impala were four foot-long cylinders wrapped in duct tape and electrical tape with protruding wires, according to a news release from the Beaufort Police Department.

Police contacted the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office bomb squad and set up a safety perimeter around the car.

A bomb robot was used to remove items from the trunk of the car. A bomb squad member searched the car while wearing a Kevlar suit, and police also searched a nearby Chevy Tahoe after the Impala was determined to be safe.

The bomb squad determined the objects posed no danger, and the area was reopened to traffic, the release said.

The five men -- ages 20, 23, 30, 31 and 45 -- were charged with misdemeanor shoplifting.

Customers were not evacuated from Walmart or any other businesses in the area, but police had customers stay inside the Walmart while the bomb squad detonated the packages.

Kelly Whitaker said she had just dropped off her mother at the hair salon in Walmart and planned to read a book in her car when an officer told her she had to leave the lot or go inside the store and wait.

"I went inside and got something to eat and drink," she said. "I was going to make myself at home until the police and bomb squad were done."

Carlos Espana was eating lunch at the nearby Ruby Tuesday restaurant when he heard the detonation.

"When I pulled up, I saw the bomb squad getting the robot ready," he said. "I was looking out the window while I was eating, and I saw the explosion and the plume of smoke."

Espana said the explosion could be heard inside the restaurant, but none of the employees or customers seemed spooked by it.

The case is still under investigation, and no further details are available, according to a news release.

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