UPDATED: Federal building evacuated in Fayetteville following vague threat

A police officer waits in his vehicle while a tow truck removes a car from in front of the John Paul Hammerschmidt Federal Building in downtown Fayetteville Monday afternoon.

Photo: Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer

Update: This story has been updated to include information about the suspect and the events leading to his arrest.

The John Paul Hammerschmidt Federal Building was evacuated Monday morning following a disturbance and a vague bomb threat in downtown Fayetteville.

Police were called to Terra Tots Natural Parenting store shortly before 11 a.m. Monday on the downtown square after reports that a man had threatened to kill the store manager.

According to a police report, the man, John Scharnhorst III, 45, of Fayetteville, was angry that the store was no longer selling his wife’s shoes on consignment.

Plywood covers a smashed window at Terra Tots Monday afternoon.

Todd Gill

Police said when the manager locked the door to the store, Scharnhorst threw a bicycle at the glass door, but the door did not break. Witnesses said Scharnhorst then got into his vehicle, but when the manager went outside to get his license plate number, Scharnhorst got out of his car and advanced toward the store. At that point, witnesses said the manager went back inside and locked the door again, so Scharnhorst grabbed a sandwich board sign and threw it at the door, shattering the glass. Once Scharnhorst saw that the manager was armed, he left the scene in his vehicle.

Scharnhorst was pulled over a few minutes later in front of the federal building at 35 E. Mountain St. where he was arrested on charges of terroristic threatening, criminal mischief, and commercial burglary.

Sgt. Craig Stout said during his arrest Scharnhorst made a “vague threat” about a possible bomb in his vehicle, which led police to evacuate the federal building and block off Mountain Street to traffic.

Stout said the Bentonville bomb squad was called to the scene to investigate Scharnhorst’s vehicle, but did not find any signs of an explosive device.

The vehicle was towed away and the streets and building were reopened shortly after 1 p.m.

Stout said the suspect is the same John Scharnhorst who was sought by police last week following another disturbance. During that incident, police were searching for Scharnhorst and his 5-year-old son.

“There is reason to believe that John might be in an altered mental state or under the influence of medication or drugs,” police stated in a post on the department’s Facebook page last week.

Both Scharnhorst and his son were located safe the following day.