KEMAH — A Sugar Land man was charged with creating a bomb scare Saturday that forced authorities to bring out bomb disposal teams and to lock down a Walmart store for four hours.
Mehrzad Malekzadeh, 35, was arrested on a class-A misdemeanor charge of making terroristic threats involving a fake bomb. He was being held in the Galveston County Jail on $5,000 bond.
Kemah police Sgt. Mark Hinson said the device police found inside the man’s car resembled a pipe bomb but was not real.
Hinson said Malekzadeh was being examined by mental health authorities.
The situation unfolded Saturday morning when police were notified about 9 a.m. of a suspicious man wearing a mask and wielding a knife in a car in the parking lot of the Super Target Store, 255 Marine Bay Drive.
Police found the car unoccupied in the parking lot of the nearby Walmart store at FM 518 and state Highway 146. Police waited for the man to return and arrested him. The man had several “unknown devices” in his pockets, according to police.
The devices looked like pipes and other items commonly used in homemade explosives.
Police locked down the store, keeping customers inside, and established a perimeter around the device that looked like a bomb.
The Texas City and Bay Area regional bomb squads were called to remove the device using robots.
Near midday, police removed the man from the police car and searched him. Police removed several layers of clothing and what appeared to be a diaper before covering him in a white sheet and returning him to a squad car. He was later taken to the Kemah Police Department building.
Authorities were meeting with representatives of the district attorney’s office late Saturday afternoon to determine what charges would be filed.
Police allowed the Walmart customers to leave the building about 2 p.m.
Jeremy Bump, who was caught inside by the lockdown, said a quick trip to the store had become a five-hour stay.
“It ruined my Saturday,” he said, chuckling. “Basically, we just got up and tried to get things done, and it put a cramp in all our plans. But other than that, what can you do? There’s some crazy people there.”
Contact reporter Wes Swift at 409-683-5319 or firstname.lastname@example.org