Police in East Texas said that a teenager from San Antonio was identified as the suspect who took a container of Blue Bell ice cream, licked it, put the lid back on, and then placed it back in the shelf at an area Walmart.
A video of the incident has gone viral, drawing horror from people on social media. “You foul,” says a voice off-camera in the clip.
The teen’s name was not revealed by police as she is a juvenile, CBS News reported on July 5, adding that detectives have spoken with the suspect. They won’t be releasing her name to the public because she is a minor.
— News 3 Now / Channel 3000 (@WISCTV_News3) July 6, 2019
The Texas Juvenile Justice Department is now handling the case, said the Lufkin Police Department to CBS.
Before she was identified, reports said she could face as much as 20 years in prison. Officials were planning on arresting her on second-degree felony tampering charges.
Blue Bell issued a statement about the matter, saying the ice cream was not sold.
BLUE BELL CATFISHING: Why did it take @lufkin_police days to identify the @ilovebluebell suspect? Officers said people pretending to her took credit. I’ve also learned the teen WILL NOT face adult charges. Case is in the juvenile system now. https://t.co/tmrjMRH8Ts pic.twitter.com/PLfD90TJ1K
— Nick Natario (@NickABC13) July 5, 2019
“Our staff recognized the location in the video, and we inspected the freezer case,” the statement said. “Based on security footage, the location and the inspection of the carton, we believe we may have recovered the half gallon that was tampered with. Out of an abundance of caution, we have also removed all Tin Roof half gallons from that location.”
It added: “Food tampering is not a joke, and we will not tolerate tampering with our products.”
Jessica Pebsworth, Lufkin Police’s public relations officer, said that a “catfish” who used an Instagram handle similar to the suspect in the video started taking credit for the stunt, ABC13 reported.
JUST IN: Police in East Texas believe they have located the store where a woman was seen in a viral video licking a container of Blue Bell ice cream and putting it back in the freezer. #KSATnews https://t.co/9pbHezRJty
— KSAT 12 (@ksatnews) July 3, 2019
Pebsworth said the catfish account stated, “Yeah, I really did that. You can call it Flu Bell ice cream now ’cause I was a lil sick last week. Repost yourself doing this. Let’s see if we can start an epidemic (literally).”
Police are now speaking with prosecutors to determine whether the teen’s boyfriend should be charged.
BLUE BELL LICKER UPDATE: Lufkin police are asking for the public’s help with identifying the man in the green next to the accused “licker.” They are verifying her identity before issuing an arrest warrant. More 👉https://t.co/dYcJV6K4iu #abc13 pic.twitter.com/ngQRJ8EkYX
— Jessica Willey (@ImJessicaWilley) July 4, 2019
20 Years in Prison?
Earlier reports said the suspect could face a second-degree felony charge of tampering with a consumer product, said the Lufkin police department to NBC News.
With that, she could face a 2 to 20-year prison term and up to $10,000 in fines, according to the report.
Additional federal charges could be filed against the woman, officials told the broadcaster.
As that portion of the investigation continues, detectives are focusing on identifying the male (in the green shirt) behind the camera seen in images of the two entering the store together,” a police spokesperson also told NBC.
Other details about the case are not clear.