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VC hostage call was from Alabama

A caller claiming to have a gun and hostage in a Valley City business parking lot on Sunday originated from Alabama and no person was in danger locally, according to the Valley City Police Department.

Employees of the Family Dollar store contacted Barnes County Communications Center at 1:42 p.m. about a man who called the store claiming to be in the parking lot with a firearm, said VCPD Chief Phil Hatcher. The caller claimed have a female hostage and wanted the store employee to provide pre-paid credit card numbers over the phone or he would harm the hostage, he said.

“This was a typical phone scam call, but this time it came with a threat,” Hatcher said.

The store’s parking lot was full and at that point the store employees took the call very seriously, he said. The Valley City Police Department and the Barnes County Sheriff’s Office responded to the scene to investigate, he said.

“There were quite a few people in the store who were alarmed and the officers did engage a couple of people in the parking lot,” Hatcher said. “It was determined they were not the person they were looking for.”

Officers made contact with store employees and learned that the suspect was still on the phone with the store, he said. The officers took over the call, contacted the cellphone provider and soon determined the call originated from Madison, Ala., Hatcher said.

The Valley City Police Department contacted Alabama law enforcement, which is investigating the Valley City call and whether calls were made to other businesses, Hatcher said. At this point it has yet to be determined if the pending charge of terrorizing would be made at the origin of the call in Alabama, at the end of the call in Barnes County or be a federal charge, he said.

The Valley City Police Department cleared the scene at 3:03 p.m., Hatcher said.