A 61-year-old Mississippi man was arrested and charged with detonating an explosive after he threw a bomb at a Walmart store because the chain stopped selling Confederate flags.
Tupelo police say Marshall Leonard tossed a small package at the front door of the 24-hour Walmart around 1:30 a.m. Sunday. The explosive did not injure employees standing nearby, but Police Chief Bart Aguirre told CBS News the bomb held enough explosives to damage the store “had it been assembled differently.”
Leonard, who was caught by authorities as he fled the parking lot, is known for flying a 4-foot-long Mississippi flag on his car. The state’s flag is emblazoned with the Confederate emblem in the upper left-hand corner.
According to CBS:
Aguirre says Leonard allegedly lit a newspaper-wrapped package and threw it into the store around 1:30 a.m. Sunday.
“An employee was sitting the vestibule taking a break. He told the employee to run – that he was going to blow the place up. He throws this package into the front entrance of Walmart. He flees and the employee flees,” Aguirre said.
He said Leonard’s silver Mazda is bedecked with stickers of the Mississippi state flag and the Confederate battle flag, and it sports a big state flag on a flexible pole. Leonard was arrested about 2 a.m. for running a red light near the Walmart, Aguirre said.
Leonard hinted at his disapproval of the chain banning sales of Confederate flag items in a Facebook post on the Daily Journal’s page just a week before his alleged attack, according to the NY Daily News. He wrote:
“Journal Corporate … You are on final warning … You are part if the problem. As a result of this, yall are going down, along with WALMART, WTVA, REEDS DEPARTMENT STORE, AND ALL THE REST OF THE ANTI-AMERICAN CROOKS,” Leonard wrote Oct. 28. “GET YOURSELF READY…THE LORD IS COMMING (sic) AFTER YALL….IM NOT KIDDING NO MESSING AROUND ANYMORE! YOUR DAYS ARE NUMBERED ALL OF YA!”
Walmart, along with other major chains and companies, stopped selling Confederate flag merchandise after gunman Dylann Storm Roofmassacred nine Black parishioners at Mother Emanuel AME church in Charleston, South Carolina in June.
Roof was a supporter of the Confederate battle flag. He told police he targeted the victims because they were Black. Aguirre on Monday told reporters that Leonard was a “strong supporter” of the flag as well.
“This is his way of bringing attention to that,” the police chief said.
Leonard’s bond hearing was set to be held Tuesday.