A man is being held in the Allegheny County Jail today on charges that he walked into the East Liberty Target store with a gasoline container on Christmas Eve and yelled "This is a bomb threat!"
Pittsburgh police wrote in a criminal complaint that an employee was working near some elevators in the store's lobby when she saw Gary Parker, 65, of East Liberty, walk in with the red plastic container and shout "You better call the police! This is a bomb threat!" at least twice.
The employee went to the store's security office to get a manager and Pittsburgh police officer Christine Scalise. The officer noted in the complaint that she could smell "a pungent, heavy odor of ignitable liquid coming from the gas can" while Mr. Parker asked where the Citizens Bank was.
Officer Scalise told him where the bank was and called additional officers for assistance. Surveillance video, she wrote, showed Mr. Parker pacing back and forth before he went into the store.
She wrote that the store was busy because it was Christmas Eve day and "in light of recent Target customer credit/deibt card issues, I was worried that a bomb attack might be possible at this store."
Mr. Parker faces charges of causing or risking a catastrophe, facsimile weapons of mass destruction, terroristic threats and possessing an incendiary device. He is being held on $20,000 bond and faces a preliminary hearing Jan. 7.
Liz Navratil: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1438 or on Twitter @LizNavratil.