|Geocache game forces Wal-Mart evacuation|
February 18, 2009 12:10 am
OIL CREEK TOWNSHIP — A treasure-hunting game apparently caused the evacuation of the Wal-Mart Supercenter on Route 8 outside of Titusville for several hours Tuesday.
A suspicious small black box was found in the parking lot of the Wal-Mart in Oil Creek Township around 10:30 a.m., according to Pennsylvania State Police at Corry.
The box was discovered to contain small items used in a global positioning system Internet game after the store was evacuated as a precaution, according to police.
Tuesday’s incident was the second one involving a suspicious package outside a Wal-Mart in northwestern Pennsylvania in as many days. On Tuesday, a bag was left outside the Clarion Wal-Mart.
There were between 40 and 50 people in the Titusville Wal-Mart at the time of the police-ordered evacuation after the package was discovered, according to a Wal-Mart employee who did not want to be identified.
There were no injuries reported and the Erie Police Depart-ment bomb squad was called in to dispose of the box. It was destroyed in the parking lot by the bomb squad around 1 p.m. The store reopened about 1:20, according to store officials.
Tuesday’s incident was the fourth time in recent weeks the Erie Police bomb squad has had dispose of such an item, said Sgt. Dave Hudson of the Erie Police bomb squad.
Such boxes have been placed in public areas without permission as part of a game called geocaching, said Hudson.
It’s a game played around the world by persons equipped with a global position system or GPS device in which players are to locate hidden containers called geocaches that are placed outdoors, according to the Internet site geocaching.com
A geocacher can place a geocache anywhere in the world, pinpoint its location using GPS technology and then share the geocache’s existence and location online. Anyone with a GPS unit can then try to locate the geocache, according to the Internet site.
There are no suspects in the case and persons with any information are asked to contact state police at Corry at (814) 663-2043.
Meanwhile, a Beckley, W.Va., man is being held on multiple charges in the Clarion County jail for allegedly leaving a suspicious package outside the Clarion Wal-Mart at 2 p.m. Monday.
State police at Clarion have charged Randall Shane Carpenter, 24, of Beckley, W.Va., with facsimile weapons of mass destruction, criminal mischief and disorderly conduct.
Carpenter allegedly arrived at the store on foot, pulling a tow-along bag behind him, according to police. Carpenter entered the store leaving the bag in the cart area, but left the store after a few minutes and then left the bag on a rack containing numerous propane tanks outside the store’s north entrance, police said.
The store was evacuated and authorities called, according to police. A state police bomb squad determined the package did not contain a bomb.
Carpenter later was located along Route 322 west of Shippenville and taken into custody, police said.
Carpenter was arraigned before Magisterial District Judge Duane Quinn and placed in the Clarion County jail in lieu of $30,000 bond. He faces a preliminary hearing before Quinn Feb. 24.
Trooper Keith Allen, the investigating officer of the Carpenter case, declined to give any further details or what may have been the motive in the case.
Keith Gushard can be reached at 724-6370 or by e-mail at email@example.com. Steve Marshall, a Tribune contributing writer and photographer, contributed to this report.
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