On Monday, a white man in Tupelo, Mississippi, was arrested after setting off a bomb in his local Walmart. He was charged with “bomb, explosive or weapon of mass destruction: planting or placement.” If convicted, he could spend anywhere from five years to the rest of his life in prison.
Marshall E. Leonard reportedly confessed to the bombing, citing outrage that the chain had stopped selling merchandise that features the Confederate battle flag. “He’s a strong supporter of keeping that flag flying. … This is his way of bringing attention to that,” Police Chief Bart Aguirre told the Associated Press. Walmart was the first major retailer to ban the flag in the wake of the Charleston massacre.
Aguirre said Leonard allegedly lit a package wrapped with newspaper on fire and threw it into the 24-hour store’s night entrance at about 1:30 am on 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. The bomb detonated loudly, but Aguirre said the damage was not extensive and no one was hurt.
Leonard may have been telegraphing the bombing with this Ocotber 28 post on local newspaper Daily Journal’s Facebook page:
Bomb technicians said that if the homemade device had been assembled differently, it contained enough explosive to inflict serious harm. Leonard was arrested about 30 minutes later after running a red light near the store in his car, which is plastered with state and Confederate flag stickers and has a large Mississippi flag sticking out of the sunroof.