via Yahoo News
(Reuters) – Thousands of shoppers were evacuated from malls in at least three states on Saturday as bomb threats or scares disrupted one of the busiest days of year for holiday shopping.
The evacuations come at a time of heightened vigilance in public places across the country, a week after a husband and wife gunned down 14 people at a holiday party in San Bernardino, California, in what the FBI considers an act of terror.
An empty suitcase caused the evacuation of some 500 people Saturday morning at a handful of stores at the Largo Mall, an outdoor outlet mall near Tampa, Florida, authorities said.
Firefighters on scene for an unrelated call noticed the suitcase in a shopping cart near one of the stores in the strip mall and found it suspicious, according to a dispatcher at the Largo Police Department.
To the north, the Shops at Riverside, a two-story shopping mall in Hackensack, New Jersey, was evacuated after authorities learned of a bomb threat scrawled on the wall of a bathroom, according to the Bergen County Sheriff’s Department.
And in Farmington, New Mexico, the Animas Valley Mall was cleared out and closed while police searched the shopping center after a threat was found on a women’s restroom wall, said Georgette Allen, public information officer for the Farmington Police Department.