On the morning of Friday, May 26, the Southern Utah News received an email with the subject line, “We placed a bomb in every Target in Utah.” The content of the email was a manifesto of sorts, along with a list of four Target supermarkets that supposedly had explosive devices planted within them as retribution for “turning their backs on the LGBT community.”
The SUNews immediately turned the email in to the Kane County Sheriff’s Office, who then coordinated with the Utah Department of Public Safety’s Statewide Information and Analysis Center (SIAC) to address the issue.
Media outlets across the state had received the same email, as had various individuals within universities and various legal departments. SIAC responded, along with local law enforcement agencies within the Salt Lake City area. All four listed Target locations were thoroughly searched, and one was evacuated as a precaution - no explosive devices were found during the search, which included canine officers and signal location equipment to more effectively locate such devices.
In a release to the press, Salt Lake law enforcement stated, “All evidence points to this being a hoax.” Despite the indicators that this was a false proclamation, the police are increasing their presence in the area around the Targets and surrounding neighborhoods, and encourage citizens to report anything suspicious immediately. The Target Corporation is also increasing security measures at these locations.
Though the wording in the message declaring violent intent was clear, the motives behind it were not. Some legal officials are unsure whether the sentiments within it were genuine, or if it was a so-called “false flag attack,” attempting to cast the community in question in a more villainous light. In either case, the evidence points to this being a hoax attack.
This attack is not isolated to the state of Utah, as news outlets from other states like Ohio and Pennsylvania have received similar threats from self-proclaimed LGBT allies striking out at Target for their recent rollback of Pride Month merchandise. As of this printing, none of these threats have culminated in actual violence, with most of them proving to be hoaxes.
The Southern Utah News offers its gratitude for the prompt response of the Kane County Sheriff’s Office in handling the situation, as well as the follow up by the KCSO to share information as the issue progressed.