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Feb-11-2009 20:45printcomments

Shoppers at Salem's Lancaster Mall Evacuated Over Suspicious Devices

Salem Police Bomb Squad Responds to Lancaster Mall‏ over three different suspicious packages.

Oregon State Police bomb squad robot
Oregon State Police bomb squad robot; similar to what Salem officers use. Photo by Tim King Salem-News.com

(SALEM, Ore.) - The Salem Police Department Bomb Squad responded to three separate suspicious packages at Lancaster Mall on Wednesday morning.

Salem Police Lt Dave Okada says all of the packages were rendered safe by the Bomb Squad with no explosives located.

"The first call came in at 10:23 a.m. from mall security, who had located a briefcase sitting in the bushes outside of the south entry to the Macy's store," Okada said.

Okada says that since nobody was claiming the item and it was out of place, police cordoned off the area and the Macy's store was evacuated pending the arrival of the Bomb Squad.

He continued, "When the Bomb Squad arrived on scene, the perimeter around the object was being expanded when a second suspicious object was located underneath a car that was parked in the parking lot outside of the south door to the Macy's store."

The perimeter was again expanded when a third suspicious object was found near the northeast corner of the Sports Authority Store, directly to the east of the other two items.

Okada says at that time all of the businesses on the southwest side of the mall building were evacuated as a precaution.

"Bomb Squad technicians were able to quickly determine that the second item was a package of rope that was still wrapped in the plastic packing in which it was most likely purchased," Okada stated.

"They then deployed the Bomb Robot to approach the original package that was sitting against the Macy's building. The Bomb Squad utilized the robot to remotely disrupt the briefcase and found that it contained a zippered business portfolio."

Okada says the robot was used to remotely disrupt the portfolio as well, and no explosives or dangerous materials were located.

"The Bomb Squad then utilized the robot to approach the third item that was outside of the Sports Authority store."

Okada says the robot was able to determine that this item was a large plastic bag that contained leaves and garbage and was not a threat or danger.


The perimeter was cleared, the stores resumed business and people were allowed back into the area at approximately 1:15 p.m.

"While these items were not explosives or a danger to the public, the Salem Police Department would like to remind the public that suspicious items should be treated as though they are potentially dangerous until found positively that they are safe," Lt. Okada said.

"When a suspicious item is located that does not belong in the area and an owner cannot be located, the area surrounding the item should be cleared of all people and the item should not be handled. When all attempts to locate the owner or origin of the package have been expended, professionals should be contacted."

He points out that fact that it takes specialized training and equipment to safely deal with potential hazardous devices, and these devices can pose an extreme danger to the public.

Oregon's law enforcement community was shaken recently, when two police bomb squad members were killed in an explosion at a Woodburn bank. A third officer was severely injured but is recovering.




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