Man Arrested After Target Evacuation Headed To Trial
SCRANTON — When police arrived at the Dickson City Target on Dec. 16 for a call about a customer making employees uncomfortable, they found a man blankly staring at the wall, refusing to acknowledge the officers.
Then, the man’s phone rang, and police noticed it displayed a countdown showing one hour and one minute, an officer said at a preliminary hearing held Tuesday. They quickly evacuated the store and the surrounding shopping center.
After Dickson City police Officer John Wilson testified about the incident involving Troy Simon, Magisterial District Judge George E. Seig ruled there was enough evidence to send the charges, which include terroristic threats, defiant trespass and related counts, to trial.
Police encountered Simon, 52, Stockbridge, Georgia, after responding to an anonymous call stating Simon was “in a catatonic state, making employees uncomfortable,” Wilson said.
Target employees informed police that Simon had been wandering the store for three days.
“He was blankly staring at the wall, wouldn’t acknowledge our presence — wouldn’t acknowledge anything,” Wilson said.
Police asked Simon to leave the premises twice, but he remained quiet. Wilson said he knew that Simon understood him because he eventually complied by giving police his identification, handing over a commercial driver’s license.
You need to know how to speak English in order to have a commercial driver’s license, Wilson said.
While police spoke with Simon, his phone rang. When he didn’t answer it, police noticed the timer displayed on his phone.
The evacuation lasted from about 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Police did not find any explosives in the bag or store. However, Simon had several knives, pills and an American flag inside his backpack.
Additionally, Simon’s wife told investigators he had made threats against her before, and she obtained a protection from abuse order against him in September.
At the hearing, defense attorney Jason Shrive argued there wasn’t enough evidence to charge Simon with terroristic threats. He noted that Simon was sitting quietly at Target’s cafe, not harassing anyone.
Deputy District Attorney Gene Riccardo argued the totality of the circumstances and Wilson’s training with explosive devices were enough to justify police’s suspicion and the subsequent evacuation.
Simon remains free on $20,000 bail.
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