Police tactical and bomb disposal units along with the local fire department responded to a call from Wal-Mart employees that was hard even for them to believe. Authorities said that they received a call saying that someone had planted some kind of explosive device on the shelves of the local discount store in Oxnard, California.
The man was observed on Wal-Mart security video which has now been released to the public. The video shows the man assembling the device inside the store with merchandise he takes off the shelves. The video shows the man wearing all black entering the store on June 18th and blending in like any other shopper. But, authorities say, he didn’t come to the store to shop, but to build a chemical weapon.
“This is a very bizarre case,” said Eric Sonstegard, the Oxnard Assistant Police Chief. Detectives identified the suspect as Martin Reyes. They say he went to the store after conducting research online on how to build a deadly chemical weapon. Once inside the store, police said the man assembled all of the ingredients from store shelves, which included some kind of electronic appliance.
Police said he used a socket near the stationary section to plug in the appliance, which was then designed to set the chemical weapon off. “This device could have caused a lot of harm,” Sonstegard said.
Store employees noticed Reyes, and the weapon and called 911. Everyone inside the store was immediately evacuated. Customers who are just now learning about the incident are shaken. Several customers that were asked about the incident responded with comments like Yvonne Railey who told a reporter: “It’s scary. This is only my second time at this Walmart. And with what’s happening today, it’s scary.” “I would have freaked out. But it doesn’t surprise me,” said another shopper.
Oxnard detectives utilizing evidence at the scene and security video tracked down Reyes Tuesday. He was already behind bars on unrelated charges. “He ended up admitting the entire thing and basically telling them how he created the device,” Sonstegard said. Police said the suspect is mentally unstable and described him as a “career criminal.” A motive for the incident is unknown.
CBS TV Oxnard, California contributed to this story.
©2016 R. L. Grimes