NEW ULM – A bomb threat occurred at the New Ulm Walmart store on Thursday evening, according to information from the New Ulm Police Department.
Police evacuated the building and then searched it. No bomb was found.
The incident was reported to law enforcement authorities at 6:25 p.m. The report indicated that an employee at Walmart was being forced from the store by a female suspect.
The suspect, who was identified as Elisheba Swett, 37, of Worthington, stated she had planted a bomb in the store, according to a NUPD press release.
Swett was taken into custody and is currently in the Brown County Jail. Pending charges include kidnapping, robbery, assault and terroristic threats.
Eyewitnesses reported that Swett seized an unidentified Walmart employee and began dragging her out of the store. Several Walmart employees and customers confronted Swett near her truck in the parking lot. She released the unidentified employee when police arrived.
Juan Montemayor, of Sleepy Eye, observed the incident in the parking lot. He said that the unidentified woman cried for help and claimed that she didn’t know Swett.
“You could see she was absolutely terrified,” said Montemayor.
Witness stated that Swett released the woman when a second patrol car arrived. Swett is reported to have resisted police for few minutes before surrendering.
Customers were allowed back into the store by approximately 8:30 p.m.
Utica – The Utica public works employee’s job with the city is up in the air after admitting in court Wednesday that he placed a camera under women’s skirts in a Walmart store last summer, officials said.
Michael Scotellaro, 54, of Utica, pleaded guilty in Oneida County Court to second-degree unlawful surveillance, a felony.
Scotellaro is due to be sentenced by Judge Barry M. Donalty on Wednesday, May 30, at which time he will be placed on 5 years of probation with six months of house arrest. Scotellaro could go to prison as a second felony offender if he commits any more felonies in the next 10 years, Donalty warned.
“It won’t happen,” Scotellaro said about any future crimes.
Scotellaro also was initially charged last October with six felony counts of possessing a sexual performance of a child after police reported that child pornography had been discovered on his home computer.
But in court, there was no mention of the alleged child pornography, which Scotellaro’s attorney had previously denied Scotellaro had any knowledge of.
“Prosecutors dismissed the whole pornography case in exchange for his guilty plea to the unlawful surveillance,” said Scotellaro’s attorney, Frank Policelli.
Although Scotellaro continues to work as a heavy equipment operator for the city, DPW officials said they are considering whether his guilty plea will affect his employment.
“We’re going to be having some discussions to see where we’re going to go with this, as far as what we may do with him,” city DPW Commissioner David Short said. “It’s relatively new to all of us, so we’re still trying to wrap our thoughts around all of this.”
In court, Scotellaro admitted that he followed women in the North Utica Walmart and placed a camera up their skirts last summer without their knowledge.
But because Scotellaro was not asked in court to specify any dates or times, it remains unclear whether he committed these acts while he was on city work time. Although prosecutors declined to comment on that issue, Short said it is something he will look into.
“Whatever the DA may give us to review, at that point we’ll see what evidence we have against him and then we’ll make a decision at that point,” Short said.
By pleading guilty, Scotellaro waived his right to have his case presented to a grand jury.
SOUTH ST. LOUIS COUNTY – A customer cooking a so-called “one pot” batch of methamphetamine inside a pop bottle in her purse caused the Thursday night evacuation of the South County Walmart store.
The woman was caught shoplifting an item unrelated to meth-making when store security and then police discovered the 20-ounce bottle, St. Louis County police Lt. Mark Cox said. The store full of customers at Telegraph Road and Interstate 255 was evacuated about 6:15 p.m. because of the possible dangers of the chemical concoction.
“It had the potential to be flammable or blow up at any time,” Cox said. He described the initial situation inside the store as “volatile,” but said the evacuation was mostly precautionary.
No one was injured. Aside from the bottle, no harmful substances or fumes were discovered inside the store.
The trend of cooking small quantities of the drug for personal use is on the rise, police said. But Cox said this was one of the first times locally a “one-pot” batch has been discovered and seized in a busy, public setting.
“There are lots of one-pot cooks,” Cox said. “But taking it into Walmart is very unusual.”
The woman and a male companion were arrested. Their names and ages were not immediately released. Cox said it did not appear the woman was trying to steal any of the ingredients used in the meth-making process and did not begin making the concoction inside the store.
Police investigators in gas masks also confiscated several meth-making precursors — bottles of medicines, pills and chemicals — from the suspects’ car in the Walmart parking lot.
The store, open 24 hours, was scheduled to reopen later Thursday night.
A man is now in custody of mental health officials after he made a naked dash through Wal-Mart, swam in a river, and sprinted across a Warwick highway.
Police were called to the scene at the Wal-Mart store at the Rhode Island mall around 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday when they received calls that a naked man was running through the store screaming and yelling incoherently.
“A gentleman identified as Michael Ray went into the Wal-Mart after parking his vehicle in the parking lot apparently at that time he was without a shirt but he was still wearing his under garments. Mr. Ray then walked toward the back of the store near the electronics area where he disrobed completely,” Colonel Stephen McCartney, Chief of Warwick Police told the WPRO Morning News with Tara Granahan and Andrew Gobeil.
According to McCartney the man was cornered by Wal-Mart personnel and “good Samaritan” shoppers who were trying to figure out what was wrong. Quickly they realized the man needed mental help. “At that time Mr. Ray would only answer the questions they asked by screaming, they then also noticed several other physiological changes, he was foaming at the mouth. They then called police,” said McCartney.
Police and rescue arrived on scene to find Ray running from the store. The police witnessed him jumping into the Pawtuxet River where he swam across and then proceeded to run across Interstate 295. “We did apprehend him up on the median strip of 295 which was a very dangerous situation,” said McCartney.
McCartney said the man was sent to Kent County Hospital for psychiatric evaluation. After talking to family members of Ray, police discovered that the man suffers from a bi-polar disorder and McCartney hypothesized he may have been off his medication.
“Just two weeks ago this gentleman graduated from URI and got a second degree, so it is kind of a very difficult tragic situation,” said McCartney. It is not clear if he will face any criminal charges.