’I’m gonna blow this (expletive) up,’ the Boca Raton-area man reportedly told a Home Depot employee at a West Palm-area store.

WEST PALM BEACH — As he pushed an empty cart through a Home Depot last week, a man turned to an employee:


"I’m gonna blow this (expletive) up."


Palm Beach County sheriff’s investigators say Robert Crespi’s alleged comment Aug. 29 prompted a 40-minute evacuation of the store on Okeechobee Boulevard west of Florida’s Turnpike as many prepared for Hurricane Dorian’s impending arrival.


On Thursday, authorities arrested the Boca Raton-area man on a charge of making a false report of a bomb, a comment he denied he made.


A judge Friday set bail for the 47-year-old at $25,000 and ordered him to have a mental-health evaluation within two days of his release from the Palm Beach County Jail.


"He vehemently denies doing it," Crespi’s attorney, Marc Shiner, said Friday, "and is looking forward to the truth coming out in the courtroom."


An employee wearing plain clothes was heading down an aisle toward the garden section of the store at about noon that Thursday when a man she did not recognize approached her.


She said he appeared angry, "possibly due to oncoming weather conditions," and said, "I’m gonna blow this (expletive) up."


She said she turned around and told her supervisor about the remark.


Employees evacuated the store so deputies could check for any suspicious items. Crespi’s arrest reports indicates that they did not find anything of concern.


The 40-minute evacuation likely cost the store thousands of dollars in lost revenue, a store manager told authorities.


When reached by telephone Friday, store employees directed all questions regarding the incident to the company’s corporate office, which did not immediately respond.


Investigators checked surveillance-camera footage from the store, which showed the man smiling as he walked in, talking to the employee and leaving during the evacuation with his hand on his head. He drove off in a Toyota Tundra, sheriff’s records state.


Through the license plate, deputies learned that Crespi owned the car, and the employee identified him as the man who made the comment to her.


Detectives called Crespi that afternoon and he denied making any statements that could be perceived as a threat. He said he was at the store during the evacuation and claimed he went to another Home Depot to make his purchase.


When authorities asked Crespi to meet for an interview, he reportedly became argumentative and said he was contacting an attorney. He said he would reach out to them again that night but reportedly never did.


A call to the number listed in sheriff’s records as Crespi’s went unanswered Friday.


ohitchcock@pbpost.com


@ohitchcock