Children’s prank call linked to unfounded bomb threats

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Bomb Pops: a frozen dessert. 

Bomb threat: what briefly closed the Urbana Walmart on August 31, after a call by three Savoy juveniles, who later told police they’d called the store to ask about ‘Bomb Pops and Spiderman toys’ — not make a bomb threat.

But that’s not what an employee heard when she picked up the call that day — and that’s why the High Cross Road store was evacuated while police searched the building. 

Police reports of the incident, obtained via an open records request by WCIA, detail the account of a Walmart employee who said a male voice told her there were “four bombs inside the building.” The woman, whose name was redacted, told police the caller said he was “just kidding,” then hung up after laughter. 

A search of the evacuated building following the call didn’t lead police to any bombs or “bomb related items” at the store. 

Police also weren’t able to trace the number that called Walmart “to any specific person, most likely because it was some kind of Google number or similar number used,” a report from Urbana Police Officer Seth King said. 

But Savoy residents, who also went unnamed in the reports released to WCIA, told police their children had made the “prank call” to the Urbana Walmart. 

Two officers visited “several addresses” in Savoy “to speak with three juveniles who may be our callers,” according to a report from Urbana Police Officer Jay Loschen. 

The juvenile names were redacted in the released reports.

One report noted the callers were “young children.”  

In interviews with the police, all three juveniles said the prank call — made via one juvenile’s family cell phone — involved calling Walmart to ask “if they had Bomb Pops.” 

Two juveniles remembered the question just being about “Bomb Pops and Spiderman toys”; one juvenile said the caller followed that question by asking “if they had dog food.” 

All three of them said none of them had mentioned bombs being inside the store. 

After looking at the phone in question, police saw “there were multiple calls placed to unknown numbers in a 13-minute span… One of those outgoing calls was…at (4:03 p.m.). I looked that number up and learned it to be the same as the Urbana Walmart,” a report by Urbana Police Officer Corey Panikow stated. 

Police “counseled” the children and “notified (them) of the severity of the call,” according to reports. 

Police also believe that case is related to a bomb threat made at Carle Foundation Hospital on August 1, which was also made via a phone call around 2:45 p.m., according to reports.

A receptionist told police she’d taken a call with a muffled voice on the line, which “seems to state ‘Can you hear me?’ Several times while (the receptionist) responds with ‘Hello.’ The voice gets a little louder and then he says, ‘I just want you to listen to what I have to tell you.’ The voice states that he was at Carle a week ago, and received no treatment,” a report by Urbana Police Officer Colby Wright stated. 

After muffled noise, the caller told the receptionist that he had “hidden three bombs in the building on three different levels.”

“‘It’s up to you to find it — you have three hours,’” the voice — purportedly that of an old man — said, according to the report.

Carle’s administration requested police do a K-9 sweep of four separate areas and placed the campus on a soft lockdown. Again, police found no evidence of bomb or “bomb related items.” 

What police did find, however, was that the number that called Carle was “the same number that called in a bomb threat on August 31, 2019, at Walmart.” 

Police said they believe the two cases are related. 

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