A woman faces two felony charges after she allegedly set off a small explosion at a Target on Howard Street in Chicago. The explosion occurred on June 8 in the store bathroom. According to police, it started in a plastic bottle and remained confined to one stall.
Authorities allegedly found items at the scene that can become volatile to the point of explosion when someone mixes them together. Officers detained the 44-year-old woman on June 9 after talking to witnesses and reviewing video footage from the Target store. Police say that they determined she was in the bathroom stall when the explosion happened but left before authorities could arrive. She was uninjured in the blast. Two felony charges were issued, including unlawful possession of an incendiary or explosive device and aggravated arson. A Cook County judge set a $25,000 bail on June 11. Although the woman was interviewed, police declined to reveal her statement.
This incident follows open criticism against Target since the company stated in April that it welcomed transgender individuals to use the fitting rooms or bathrooms that correspond to the gender with which they identify. Over 1.3 million individuals have supported a petition from the American Family Association that encourages a boycott against the stores. Police say that the Chicago Target explosion is not under investigation as a hate crime. They explained that detectives look at all possible angles during investigations, but nothing in this case has indicated that it was linked to the bathroom policy or another hate crime.
Facing felony charges means that defendants are subject to stricter penalties than those for misdemeanors if they are convicted. Criminal defense attorneys for these defendants might be able to convince the prosecution to reduce the charges. In an aggravated arson case, for instance, the attorney could argue that the defendant did not intend to maliciously burn a property.
Source: The Daily Northwestern, “Chicago woman charged with two felonies for Target store bathroom explosion,” Rishika Dugyala, June 12, 2016