Bomb Hoax Leads to Evacuation of N.Y. Mall

The discovery of a small package with wires sticking out of it prompted the evacuation of thousands of people Wednesday from the Palisades Center mall in Wst Nyack, N.Y. in Rockland County.

But the foil-wrapped package was revealed to be a fake when it was blown up in place by a police bomb squad, said Sgt. Harry Bauman, of the Clarkstown police force, which covers the vast mall in West Nyack.

“It would be fair to call it a hoax,” he said. “It looked suspicious.”

An investigation was under way, he said.

The package, which Bauman said was about 6 inches long, 4 inches wide and 2 inches deep, was discovered at about 3:20 p.m. by cleaners in a bathroom near the mall’s food court and merry-go-round.

An evacuation was ordered, and police and mall security guards ushered shoppers out of the mall, one of the largest in the country, as state and county bomb squads were called in to investigate.

The combination of emergency vehicles arriving and shoppers leaving caused backups on the New York State Thruway and other roads around the mall into the evening rush hour. Police helicopters hovered above the mall, and one landed in a parking lot.

Michael Bovalino, president of the Pyramid Cos., which owns the 7-year-old mall, referred questions to the police, saying “this type of threat is obviously a criminal matter.”

Bauman, the sergeant, said police were searching the mall for any other suspicious items and would then let the owners decide whether to reopen for the evening.

At 1.9 million square feet on four levels, the Palisades Center is the second-largest mall in the state and the 18th largest in the country, according to a 2004 listing. Its 250 stores include Filenes, J.C. Penny, Home Depot, Target and Lord & Taylor. Besides the carousel, it has a 68-foot Ferris wheel, a skating rink and 22 movie theaters.

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