Arrests made in connection with series of fires at Walmart stores
Five men have been arrested and charged with burning down a series of Walmart stores in the south, two of which were located on the Mississippi coast.
The fires were part of an extortion attempt, according to the indictment. The suspects hoped to get Walmart to respond to a set of demands in a manifesto titled “Declaration of War and Demands for the People.”
The five men were arrested after an indictment by an Alabama grand jury. Jeffrey Sikes, Sean Bottorff, Michael Bottorff, Quinton Olson and Alexander Olson face various charges, including malicious destruction by fire.
The arrests come more than nine months after the first fire at a Walmart in Mobile, Alabama on May 27, 2021.
The second fire was started on May 28, 2021 at a separate Mobile-based Walmart
The third fire took place at a Gulfport Walmart store on June 4, 2021, when “a heavily disguised man and woman” entered the store and started fires in the garden center and sporting goods sections, according to the indictment.
Later that day, suspects entered a Walmart in Biloxi located on Switzer Road and started a fire in the household goods section.
The fires were started by dousing clothes racks with lighter fluid, the affidavit states.
Five men were aided by three women who are not charged in the indictment, according to the report.
After the second fire, investigators say Olson bought a burner phone and created an email called “[email protected]”.
The phone was then used to take photos of the “Declaration of War and People’s Demands”, a six-page document written by a group calling itself the “Order of Veterans Affairs”, according to the records.
The indictment says the manifesto refers to the fires and “makes demands of Walmart regarding the company’s interstate and foreign business practices” and threatened further fires if the demands were not met.
Photos of the document were sent to various media outlets in Mobile.
At the time of the fires, the five defendants were living with three adult women in a rental home in Lillian, Alabama, near Gulf Shores and Orange Beach.
According to Al.com, all of the defendants intend to plead not guilty and the trial is expected to begin in May.