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Bomb scare interrupts Wal-Mart shoppers

COVINGTON -- For the second time in just over three months, the Covington Wal-Mart store was evacuated due to a bomb threat.

Sunday afternoon around 3 p.m., shoppers at the store were told to leave their buggies and vacate the premises after a phone threat was received at the store, according to the Covington Police Department.

A CPD incident report states that a store employee answered the phone about 2:55 p.m. and heard a female voice say, "I'm coming to Wal-Mart to bomb the store, and I don't want anyone to die."

The employee told authorities she said, "Excuse me?" and the woman repeated the same statement two more times and hung up the phone. She described the voice as belonging to someone between 22 and 25 years old without any type of accent.

"Management on duty at Wal-Mart advised their policy is to evacuate the store," the report states. "The store was evacuated and Wal-Mart management searched the store for any suspicious items and nothing was found. The store was reopened by Wal-Mart personnel."

"We leave it up to the store on what they want to do on something like this and how they want to proceed," said CPD spokesman Lt. Wendell Wagstaff. "They walked around with officers and checked to see if everything was OK, and it was."

The store was reopened after about an hour.

Wagstaff said detectives are in the process of tracing the phone number to where the call originated, but have no other leads at present.

Police ask that anyone with information as to the identity or whereabouts of the suspect in this case to call the CPD at 770-786-7605. Tips can be given to the CPD anonymously by visiting the Web site at www.covingtonpolice.com and clicking on "Most Wanted" and then "Anonymous Tips."

In early November the store was also evacuated after a bank robber carrying a plastic case told a teller at the United Bank branch location inside Wal-Mart that he had a bomb and demanded money. As the man left the store, he threw down the device he claimed was a bomb in front of the soft drink machines across from the buggy return in the retail section of the store.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation's Bomb Squad was called to the scene and were then able to determine the bomb threat was a hoax.

About 10 days later, a Covington man by the name of Tony Montgomery was arrested and charged with armed robbery and the use of a hoax device in connection with the incident.