16-Year-Old Arrested in Wal-Mart Intercom Case

Teen has been released to custody of his parents, police said

By Vince Lattanzio and Danielle Johnson
|  Saturday, Mar 20, 2010  |  Updated 10:59 PM EDT
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Customers react after learning 16-year-old boy was allegedly responsible for offensive comments made over a South Jersey Wal-Mart's intercom.

Byron Scott

Customers react after learning 16-year-old boy was allegedly responsible for offensive comments made over a South Jersey Wal-Mart's intercom.

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A 16-year-old boy, who was arrested for allegedly announcing a hateful message over a South Jersey Wal-Mart's intercom, was nabbed by cops after he bragged about the incident on the internet.

Washington Township police say they arrested the teen after they were notified about information he posted on his Facebook page and on YouTube. Investigators say the posts have since been removed.

“We were looking into anonymous tips and also the internet. By accessing the internet and Facebook and YouTube there was some information that was being supplied,” said Chief Rafael Muniz.

Surveillance cameras inside the store captured the Atlantic County, NJ teenager in action.

The teen was taken into custody Friday evening on charges of harassment and bias intimidation after allegedly accessing the Washington Township, N.J. store's public address system and announcing: "Attention Wal-Mart customers: All black people leave the store now."

The teen has since been released to the custody of his parents.

Several shoppers who were at the store on Saturday were satisfied after hearing about the arrest.

“Well, it’s good they arrested him they need to make an example out of him,” said one shopper.

“My daughter and son-in-law were here when it happened..yeah they were embarrassed, they were upset,” Tom Hassett said.

Authorities aren't releasing the boy's name because he's a juvenile, and they don't know whether he has an attorney.

Some shoppers were boycotting the retailer since the incident happened last Sunday, even though the store's manager immediately admonished the remarks and issued an apology to shoppers in the store, as well as through the media several days later.

In the wake of the incident, angry and offended customers lambasted the store for the ease at which someone could make a storewide page through several phones inside the store.

Wal-Mart said Friday that an internal investigation uncovered new evidence suggesting that a shopper may have made the page.

Washington Township Police and the Gloucester County Prosecutor's Office had investigated the case as a possible hate crime.

“These types of crimes will not be tolerated in Gloucester County. This incident should act as a reminder that we should all do our best to educate our children,” said Sean Dalton, Gloucester County Prosecutor.

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