LUFKIN, Texas (KTRE) - By now, many people may have seen the viral video of a young woman taking the lid off a Blue Bell container, licking the ice cream, and putting it back in the display case.
Now, police believe the incident may have occurred at the Lufkin Walmart.
According to a press release, the Lufkin Police Department is investigating the incident.
“The video hit social media June 28, launching an investigation that led from Walmart stores in San Antonio to Houston and eventually Lufkin,” the press release stated.
Lufkin police on Wednesday night asked for public help positively identifying the woman in the video as well as the man with her wearing a green shirt. They request that tips be sent to Crime Stoppers at 639tips.com. They say they are working to identify the woman as well as the man with her in the green shirt. When identified, the woman could possibly second-degree felony tampering with a consumer product. Police say they are also consulting with federal authorities.
Earlier this week, commenters on social media identified the woman seen licking a half-gallon of “Tin Roof” ice cream and said that she was from San Antonio. Because of that, law enforcement agencies in San Antonio thought the incident occurred at one of their Walmart stores. However, a store display matching the one in the video could not be found.
Warning: The video included with the tweet contains graphic language.
“The search then went to Houston Walmart stores after investigators learned the identified woman may be living with a boyfriend in that area,” the press release stated. “Again, a store display case matching the one in the video could not be found.”
The press release stated that Blue Bell’s corporate office instructed all of its division managers to see if they could identify the store location. Within an hour of the plea from the company’s corporate office, a Lufkin division manager called and said he thought it was the Lufkin Walmart.
The division manager based his opinion on the store’s unique merchandising, which matched what was seen in the video.
“At 1:10 p.m. today, Blue Bell contacted us, saying that they believed the viral video took place in the Lufkin Walmart store and that they had retrieved what they believed to be the tainted container of ice cream,” the press release stated. “By 4 p.m., detectives had obtained surveillance video placing a woman matching the suspect description in the Lufkin store on June 28 around 11 p.m.”
The press release stated that Lufkin PD detectives believe they have identified the woman, and the investigation is ongoing. Appropriate charges will be filed, according to Gerald Williamson, Lufkin’s director of public safety.
According to the Texas criminal code, tampering with a consumer product could be anything from a third-degree felony on up to a first-degree felony. Section 22.09 of the code says that tampering means altering or adding a foreign substance to a consumer product “to make it probable that the consumer product will cause serious bodily injury.”
The charge could be upgraded to a first-degree felony if someone suffers serious bodily injury as a result of the tampering.
“Our biggest concern is consumer safety – in that regard we are glad to see the tainted product off the shelves,” Williamson said. “We are recommending that as a precaution Blue Bell remove products from the Lufkin Walmart shelves until our investigation is complete.”
Blue Bell issued the following statement about the incident.
We have identified a Walmart in Lufkin, Texas, as the store where the malicious act of food tampering took place. Our staff recognized the location in the video, and we inspected the freezer case. We found a Tin Roof half gallon that appears to have been compromised. Based on security footage, the location and the inspection of the carton, we believe we may have recovered the half gallon that was tampered with. Out of an abundance of caution, we have also removed all Tin Roof half gallons from that location.
The Lufkin Police Department has been notified and is taking over the investigation.
The safety of our ice cream is our highest priority, and we work hard to maintain the highest level of confidence of our customers. Food tampering is not a joke, and we will not tolerate tampering with our products. We are grateful to the customers who alerted us and provided us with information.