HAZMAT team investigates 'unknown substance' at mall - FOX 13 News

HAZMAT team investigates 'unknown substance' at mall

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(Photo courtesy: Sarasota Police Department) (Photo courtesy: Sarasota Police Department)
SARASOTA (FOX 13) -

Lenscrafters inside the Westfield Southgate mall is closed until Wednesday. Someone threw a crushed up substance in the store Tuesday morning, then took off.

That sent red flags flying and emergency hazardous materials crews swooping in.

"I saw cop cars and fire trucks just flying down [Highway} 41," said Megan Atkins, a witness.

The entire mall was on lockdown for a few hours until officials could determine the substance inside the store wasn't dangerous.

"The mall was opened around 1:45, around that same time, before 2, we got a call of a suspicious incident at Plaza Five Points," said Genevieve Judge, Communications coordinator for the Sarasota Police Department.

In this case it wasn't a substance, rather a letter delivered by the postal service. Investigators say it had the letters "TNT" on it and the word "Kaboom." It might sound silly, but crews were taking this very seriously.

"We're going to respond, no matter what it ends up being, we're going to be safe than sorry," Judge said.

Like the first case, this one was also determined not to be a threat.

"There is no evidence at this point that these two are connected," Judge said.

"Both incidents are under investigation, but we don't think there's a threat to the public," Judge added.

Which means folks like Megan Atkins can breath a little easier. All the chaos, a matter of police procedure, rather than a criminal plot.

"You don't hear of things like that happening in Sarasota," Atkins said.

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