Chicago woman charged with two felonies for Target store bathroom explosion

Rishika Dugyala, Assistant Summer Editor

A Chicago woman was charged with two felonies Saturday after setting off a minor explosion in the bathroom of a Target store on Howard Street three days earlier.

The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Felony Review Unit approved charging Heidi E. Schmidt, 44, with aggravated arson and unlawful possession of an explosive or incendiary device, Evanston police Cmdr. Joseph Dugan said.

In addition to the charges, when Schmidt appeared at court Saturday, a Cook County judge set her bail at $250,000, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Based on witness accounts and video footage, detectives took Schmidt into custody on Thursday, the day after the explosion.

Dugan said officers determined Schmidt was inside the bathroom stall during the incident, although she was not injured and left the scene before officials arrived.

The explosion was initiated from a plastic bottle and was confined to a single stall, Dugan said. He added that officers found items in the bathroom that are commonly combined to create a chemical high and can also become volatile and explode during the mixture process.

In April, Target released a statement saying transgender individuals are welcome to use the bathroom or fitting room corresponding with their preferred gender identity. The corporation received pushback: More than 1.3 million people have signed a petition created by the American Family Association calling for a boycott of all Target stores.

Dugan said the incident is not being investigated as a hate crime.

“When detectives are investigating, they have to look at that as a possible angle,” Dugan said. “Nothing has come to light that has linked the explosion to Target’s bathroom policy or any type of hate crime.”

Although Schmidt has since been interviewed, Dugan declined to release any of her statements.

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