On Thursday, June 21, a Molotov cocktail device and note was found by a bank employee in front of a Wells Fargo Bank branch on Broadway and East 10th Street in downtown Manhattan. At this time, it is unknown whether the device was real or a hoax. It did not ignite.
Searches indicate two recent incidents where a Molotov cocktail was left or thrown at a Wells Fargo branch. On November 17, 2011, Joshua Townsend, a 20 year old male, was arrested for throwing a Molotov cocktail at a Wells Fargo branch in West Jordan, Utah, for unknown reasons. The device broke a window and set a bush on fire; there were no injuries. He called police during, or just prior to, the incident to state intentions. He received a plea deal and was sentenced to five years in prison. On June 5, a Wells Fargo bank manager found another homemade incendiary device next to a broken window at a branch in Portland, Oregon. On the next day, a group called the “Queer Attack Squadron” posted a statement on the Anarchistnews.org website taking credit for the attack. The group placed the device, which did not explode, in solidarity with a transgender woman, CeCe McDonald, who was convicted of a homicide. She killed a man who made derogatory comments to her on the street. The motivation for the attack may be an unspecified link that the bank has to the private prison industry.
Though the individual(s) responsible for today’s incident left a note, the intentions are not yet known.
Though no serious damage or injuries resulted from the use of these incendiary devices, if properly constructed, they can cause a serious fire incident. The need to provide easy access to banking services makes bank branches vulnerable targets. Be aware of suspicious items left at the perimeter of your facilities upon opening for business each day. Also, inspect areas accessible to the public such as ATM vestibules. If a suspicious device is found, call the authorities and follow internal security procedures. Never handle a suspicious device/package.