Stories From Inside The Ocean County Mall Evacuation
Confusion, fear, and rumors took over the Ocean County Mall last night when the shopping center was hastily evacuated following a series of anonymous bomb threats. WOBM's Mark Anthony spoke to a number of shoppers and employees who were in the mall at the time. Here are their stories:
Sam - Mall employee from Bayville
I was sitting at work and the police came in and said we had to close up because there was an emergency. They then had everybody evacuate the mall, police wouldn't let anyone go in. I was confused and nervous at first. I told my coworker and she thought I was joking. Someone called in a bomb threat saying there was a bomb in the mall and everyone was gonna get hurt. I had to leave the mall immediately. When I got outside, everyone was really confused, panicking, on their phones, making calls. I witnessed one woman crying because her son was inside and police wouldn't let her into the mall.
Frank - Shopper from Lanoka Harbor
I was standing in front of a store in the mall when I saw people running towards the exit. A lady was crying and running at the same time. I walked to the exit and saw a crowd gather while police blocked off the exits. It was well organized by the police, there was no panic outside of the mall.
Nikki - Mall employee from Bayville
I was ringing up a customer when a security person from the mall rushed into the store and said, "the mall is being evacuated, everyone needs to get out!" All the customers rushed out. I stayed behind with my manager to close the gate of the store. I saw people running towards the exit in a panic, it made me scared and nervous. I rushed outside with my manager and saw a large crowd standing confused. By the time I got out, there were police everywhere. The crowd was confused as to what was going on, sooner or later, the police began telling people that it was "an active bomb threat".
Kayla - Mall employee from Beachwood
I was working yesterday. Someone called the mall around 7, calling in the bomb threat, and that we had to immediately evacuate. A lot of people were running and panicking. A lady asked me to complete her at checkout, but I didn't because I wanted to get out. Many people thought it was a joke and didn't react until police made them.
WOBM's Mark Anthony
As I was pulling up to the mall, I saw three police officers blocking the entrance into the mall. There were Crime Investigation Units, and a large bus that looked like the Toms River Police mobile communications center. People were standing in groups outside while police were diverting traffic in and out of the mall. Cars tried to get around the police through the parking lot, but police used bullhorns saying "The mall is closed until further notice. Leave now." It was a scary and intense scene that looked like it was out of a movie. Major credit to the Toms River Police force for maintaining an organized and panic free atmosphere.
Were you at the mall yesterday when this all happened? Tell us your experience in the comments section below: