Palm Coast, FL – A Palm Coast man under arrest for threatening to blow up Flagler County’s only Walmart says it was nothing more than a joke.
That’s what 67-year-old William B. Rudd Jr. told deputies before he was taken to the county jail today (September 5th) and charged with threatening to throw a destructive device, a second-degree felony. He’s held without bond.
Flagler County Sheriff Rick Staly says Rudd’s joke was a “poor decision”.
“I am proud of the deputies who responded to this call without hesitation and immediately went into the store to apprehend a guy who could have very easily had a bomb,” Staly added. “They did everything by the book and turned people away from entering the store without causing a panic.”
First responders were called to the store off Cypress Point Parkway around 9 a.m. today by a Walmart employee, according to FCSO spokesperson Shannon Martin.
“The caller stated that a male had entered the store and told three employees that they were standing so close together that, if he threw a grenade, he could blow them all up,” Martin noted. “[The man] then began laughing loudly and entered the public restroom.”
Deputies and paramedics arrived within minutes of that call and prevented anyone else from entering the store or the shopping center. FCSO also recommended the store’s evacuation for safety reasons but Walmart management wouldn’t do that, per Martin.
“While interviewing employees, FCSO made contact with a male who matched the description of the suspect,” Martin noted. “Walmart loss prevention positively identified Rudd as the male who made the threats by watching CCTV footage of the incident.”
That footage also showed Rudd making “two throwing motions” with his hands and throwing both hands up in the air while talking to the employees near the store entrance, according to the FCSO emergency call log of the incident.
When questioned afterward by investigators, Rudd denied speaking to any store employees at first, then claimed his comments were only a joke, per the FCSO report.
Bomb-sniffing dogs from FCSO did not find any explosives in the store or in Rudd’s vehicle, clearing the way for the store to re-open.