Security scare at suburban mall

March 1, 2008 8:52:41 PM PST
There was a security scare Saturday night at the Old Orchard shopping center in Skokie. It involved a suspicious person with a backpack, a bomb threat and then an evacuation. The bomb squad rushed to the mall but nothing was found.

Late Saturday night police gave the all clear after searches with bomb sniffing dogs turned up nothing.

The incident began just after 5:00 PM when a man appeared to conceal his identity as he walked from store-to-store leaving a trail of concern in his wake.

It started with a suspicious man, his face covered by a ski mask or scarf, his manor highly suspicious according to those he encountered.

"He wasn't talking, just standing there," said Amy Battle, who was shopping at the mall.

The man is said to have looked around Macy's and Nordstrom, changing outfits several times and raising suspicions, to the point several people called 9-1-1. Police decided to evacuate the two department stores.

"I mean it was very disturbing, so I was having my transaction, and, we didn't get to take our stuff or anything like that. They made everybody run out," Battle said.

"What I heard was 'everybody leave the store', so we went out, And they said they saw a man that covered his face. And it is a bomb threat," said Bessie Buzanis, a store employeel.

It is unclear when the word "bomb" came into play and whether it was said by the suspicious man or simply rumor spread by riled up shoppers. But security tape appears to show the man entering with a bag of some sort and leaving without it.

"The information about a bomb threat or bomb scare came to the police department third, fourth and sometimes fifth hand. So we're in the process of trying to interview as many people as we can to try to narrow down exactly what, if anything, was said," said Skokie Police Commander Mike Ruth.

Witnesses say they think the man left the shopping center on a bus. Skokie police say they have a few leads that will help them identify this man. But right now, the police emphasize that it doesn't appear he broke laws.

But Police want to find out who he is in the wake of the mall shooting in Omaha in December, they just don't want to take any chances.