Jessamine County

Nicholasville Wal-Mart reopens; meth lab ingredients found in backpack

James Prater, 36, faces methamphetamine charges in Nicholasville
James Prater, 36, faces methamphetamine charges in Nicholasville

The Nicholasville Wal-Mart was evacuated for more than an hour Wednesday morning after a 2-liter bottle containing methamphetamine ingredients was found in a man's backpack, authorities said.

A store employee found a man asleep in a bathroom and called police.

In the man's backpack, police found a one-step methamphetamine lab in a 2-liter bottle, said Kevin Grimes, public information officer for Nicholasville police.

"You put all the chemicals in a 2-liter, and you close it up and it starts cooking itself off," Grimes said.

There have been at least five similar incidents at Wal-Marts across in the country in the last several months, according to news reports.

"It's maddening to think something like this could have been brought into one of our stores," Kayla Whaling, spokeswoman for Wal-Mart's Arkansas corporate headquarters said Wednesday.

"We notified police and evacuated our store out of an abundance of caution for the safety of everyone in our facility," she said.

The store was evacuated about 9 a.m., Grimes said. Cleanup was contained to the bathroom, and the store reopened by 10:15 a.m.

Police arrested and charged James Prater, 36, with manufacturing methamphetamine, Grimes said. Prater was taken to the Jessamine County Detention Center.

Prater, of Lancaster, was also charged with possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia.

"We regularly check our restrooms, and if we do find anything suspicious, we will report that to police," said Whaling, the Wal-Mart spokeswoman.

Also, Whaling said Wal-Mart has policies in place to restrict the purchase of products containing pseudoephedrine. Pseudoephedrine is a key ingredient in methamphetamine.

Grimes said he did not know of any similar incidents in Nicholasville.

In June in Missouri, police evacuated a Wal-Mart after reportedly finding a "one-pot" methamphetamine bottle inside a woman's purse.

Also in June, a man was arrested in Mentor, Ohio, after he allegedly made meth in a salt shaker in a Wal-Mart store.

Similar incidents were reported in Wal-Marts in Arkansas and Oklahoma, both ending in arrests.

Additionally, a cleaning crew found the ingredients for making methamphetamine in a Wal-Mart women's bathroom in Alabama in April, reports said.