Bomb threat triggers evacuation of Vermont mall

Published: Feb. 7, 2023 at 3:54 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 7, 2023 at 7:05 PM EST
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BERLIN, Vt. (WCAX) - Bomb threats targeted Walmart stores across the country on Tuesday, including one in Vermont and one in our region of New Hampshire. The threat in Vermont triggered the evacuation of the entire mall in Berlin.

“Then all of a sudden I see the state troopers and whatever, and I stopped to ask what was going on and I guess a bomb threat had been called in,” said Cass Bresette of Williamstown.

Bresette was headed to Walmart to grab some things, but when he pulled into the parking lot, he saw that the entire mall was evacuated due to the threat. Like many others waiting to go inside, he thought it was just a joke.

“I’m like, OK, somebody is pulling a prank. First thought was maybe they did not like the new store coming in, something different. I said, well I am not kicking around here. I got other things I can do and I’ll come back,” Bresette said.

Berlin Police say someone phoned in the threat, saying there was a pipe bomb inside the Walmart.

The entire mall was evacuated for a couple of hours as the Vermont State Police Bomb Squad and Berlin Police searched the premises. They found nothing. Nobody was injured.

Berlin Police Chief James Pontbriand says police talked with the person who made the threat. He suspects the person was not in the U.S. and that their motivation was money.

“At this point, it appears that it was a financial scam. It’s happened multiple times already today throughout the nation. So from what we can tell, it’s financially motivated,” Pontbriand said.

The chief says as long as there is money to be made, the threats won’t stop.

“I expect as long as there is money to be made on it, it will continue. They may change the way it looks but I would expect that it would continue,” he said.

A threat was also made against the Walmart in Claremont, New Hampshire. Claremont Police Chief Brent Wilmot said it came in around 2:40 p.m.

I reached out to Walmart and they refused to comment.

Berlin Mall managers wouldn’t go on camera but sent a text. In it, they didn’t acknowledge the threat itself but said they were grateful for the quick response by the police.

Berlin Police say the threat is being investigated by federal authorities.