To the frantic manager of a Coon Rapids Burger King Friday night, the choice was to act fast or face disaster.
A caller who said he was a fire department official said there was a gas leak in the building and that unless the windows were smashed, a gas buildup in the building would cause an explosion. So the manager and Burger King employees evacuated the restaurant and started smashing ground floor windows. Every single one.
Problem was, it was a hoax. The caller was no firefighter. There was no gas.
On Saturday morning, all the windows were boarded up at the Burger King at 2025 Northdale Blvd.
Coon Rapids police received a call about 9:30 p.m. Friday, with the caller reporting that people were breaking the windows of the Burger King, Sgt. Rick Boone said Saturday.
“Officers arrived and found that the manager and employees of the Burger King were smashing out the windows,” Boone said. “The manager explained they’d received a phone call from a male who identified himself as a fireman who said there were dangerous levels of gas in the building and they had to break out all the windows to keep the building from blowing up.”
He added: “The manager was frantic and actually believed the building was going to blow.”
Then the officers explained there was no emergency.
One employee suffered a minor cut during the window-shattering, police said. No one else was hurt. As of Saturday, there was no estimate on the cost of the damage to the building.
As of late Saturday afternoon, it was not yet known who made the hoax call. Coon Rapids police and the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office are investigating.
Boone said the identities of the manager and employees were not yet available. But there was already a video posted to YouTube showing the employees smashing their own building, he said, thanks to customers at the SuperAmerica next door.
It seems the Coon Rapids prank isn’t isolated. YouTube has at least a couple videos posted showing employees of other Burger Kings doing the same thing. Sites in Oklahoma City and Morro Bay, Calif., have also been hit by the hoax, resulting in tens of thousands of dollars in damage.
“You can always count on video these days,” Boone said.
Coon Rapids police issued a statement saying they “WOULD NEVER call a residence or business to ask them to take action of any kind.
“Calls for service come into the 911 dispatch system from someone calling to report a problem, and only then do police, fire and emergency responders respond,” the department said. “In the event you receive a call from someone claiming to be from a police or fire agency asking you to take some kind of action, consider it a prank and call 911 immediately.”
James Walsh • 651-925-5041