Early Saturday morning two “foreign speaking” men set off alarms after they entered the local Walmart store in Lebanon, Missouri and purchased 60 cellphones. The purchase was made around 4 AM in the morning. Police were called but released the men saying they didn’t have a legal reason to detain them.
** Six Walmarts in mid-Missouri reported bulk purchases of cell phones the same week.
** Explosives were found in Mark Twain Forest in mid-Missouri in October.
** Dozens of propane tanks were stolen near Kansas City in early December.
The Camden County Sheriff’s office in southern Missouri confirmed it received a tip regarding a group of Middle Eastern men asking suspicious questions about Bagnell Dam.
Bagnell Dam impounds the Osage River and was constructed in Southern Missouri to create Lake of the Ozarks.
Lake News Online reported:
Lake of the Ozarks
The Camden County Sheriff’s Office has verified that it received a tip regarding a group of Middle Eastern men asking about Bagnell Dam and have forwarded the report to the FBI and a joint task force on terrorism. That does not mean that there is any reason to be scared or panicked that an attack is planned at the Lake of the Ozarks, CCSD Cpl. Scott Hines said, advising though that people should always be aware and alert as they go about their business.
According to Hines, a Camden County deputy was out to lunch in the area last week when a staff member of the restaurant relayed an incident that occurred there a few days to a week prior that they thought was kind of weird. A group of Middle Eastern men were apparently asking about the dam and boat tours of the dam. The reporting person thought it was kind of odd, said Hines, but didn’t call to report it at the time, only mentioning it to the deputy when he happened to be at the restaurant.
When a deputy receives a tip like that, the department has a set way to handle it, notifying several groups. They have talked to the FBI, said Hines, and the intelligence has been reported to the joint terrorism task force for Missouri hosted out of the US Attorney’s Office of Missouri and through the Missouri Department of Public Safety and the Highway Patrol, which has a liaison to the Department of Homeland Security. The task force is a conglomeration of multiple law enforcement agencies that collects and analyzes intelligence, such as the recent prepaid cell phone purchases around the state as well as other tips and reports.
The sheriff’s office is not conducting an investigation, and things are business as for the local agency. They are not running any extra deputies or patrols, said Hines.
The reports do not necessarily mean an attack is planned. Bagnell Dam is a legitimate attraction of interest for visitors, and the Lake of the Ozarks sees tourists from around the country and the world.