Watch CBSN Live

Target explosion related to bathroom policy?

Google founder's $100 million flying-car effo... 01:08

Police in Evanston, Illinois, have charged a Chicago resident in a small explosion in the bathroom of a Target (TGT) store.

"There is no factual evidence that was uncovered during this investigation that points toward this incident being related to any policies of the Target store or a hate crime," authorities said in a statement.

Heidi Schmidt, 44, is charged with aggravated arson and unlawful possession of an explosive, both felonies, after the incident last Wednesday.

"Recovered in the bathroom were items that are commonly combined in a method to produce a chemical high, but during the mixture process can become volatile and explode," according to a statement released by the Evanston police department. "Schmidt was not injured in the incident and left the scene prior to the arrival of the police and fire department."

No one was injured in the blast, which came nearly two months after the retailer stepped into a national debate over LGBT rights, drawing the ire of several conservative groups.

"The explosion may have initiated from a plastic bottle that was observed in the stall," police said in a statement. "There were no threats or other suspicious activity prior to, or since the incident occurred."

Target spokeswoman Molly Snyder said the retailer was "unaware of what prompted" the incident, and that the company was working with local law enforcement investigating it.

The Wednesday incident coincided with the discount retailer's annual shareholders meeting in Costa Mesa, California, at which a conservative activist asked Target CEO Brian Cornell if he regretted Target's policy of inclusion and if he viewed as bigots those who disagreed with the retailer's stance.

"Liberal corporate leaders such as Cornell throw around the words 'diversity' and 'inclusion' so much they are starting to lose their meaning," Justin Danhof, a director at the National Center for Public Policy Research, said in a news release.

"The comments our CEO made at our annual shareholders meeting were very much in line with what we have shared in the past," Snyder said in an email. "We want Target to be a place that everyone feels welcome."

Target reiterated in a blog post in April that it supports the federal Equality Act and that "we welcome transgender team members and guests to use the restroom or fitting room facility that corresponds with their gender identity."

The move came after states including Mississippi and North Carolina passed laws to protect those who cite religious beliefs for refusing to serve or employ gay or transgender people. Some of the measures limit access to public restrooms and require transgender people use those that correspond to the gender listed on their birth certificate.

The retailer's stance prompted the American Family Association (AFA) to launch an online petition calling for a boycott of Target, saying it was looking to get Target to reverse its policy.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue