A fervent supporter of the Confederate flag was arrested early Sunday morning after he allegedly detonated an explosive device outside a Tupelo, Miss., Walmart in apparent retaliation for the retail giant’s recent decision to stop selling the racist emblem.
The Daily Journal reports that the suspect, Marshall W. Leonard, 61, was a regular commenter on their Facebook page. Like everyone who comments on publications’ Facebook pages, Leonard was the author of many sensible and coherent posts.
“Journal corporate, you are on final warning,” he wrote in a since-deleted post on Oct. 28, according to the Journal. “You are part of the problem. As a result of this, y’all are going down, along with Walmart, WTVA, Reeds department store, and all the rest of the anti-American crooks. I’m not kidding. No messing around anymore!”
In other comments, he accused the publication of “censoring” him, asked whether the paper’s editor never got past “4th grade,” and referred to a post about a solar car as a “PERFICT EXAMPLE OF MEDIA BRAINWASHING, OFWHICH THE jOURNAL IS PART OF.”
Tupelo Police Chief Bart Aguirre said a vehicle pulled up to the night entrance of the North Gloster Walmart around 1:30 a.m.
“A white male got out, lit the package and threw it in the vestibule,” Aguirre said. “There was an employee on break, and the suspect told him, ‘You better run.’
“The employee did run and was away from harm when the package went off. It wasn’t a large explosion. It didn’t cause a lot of damage to the store.”
Police arrested Leonard after spotting a huge Mississippi state flag protruding, apparently illegally, from the sunroof of his car. “The officer pulled him over for the traffic violation, but when the calls started coming in, we quickly figured out we needed to hang on to this suspect,” Aguirre said.
Leonard was charged with placing an explosive device, which in Mississippi carries a possible life sentence.