HACKENSACK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Holiday shoppers got a scare Saturday when they were forced to evacuate the Riverside Square Mall in Hackensack due to a bomb threat.
The threat was found in a note in a bathroom at the mall, the Bergen County Sheriff’s Department said. Authorities said the mall was evacuated out of an abundance of caution.
George Naftopolis was trying to pick up some Christmas presents when police and firefighters arrived.
“We just pulled in, police all over the place and they just told everybody to get out, the mall was closed,” he told CBS2’s Brian Conybeare.
While employees and customers waited nervously outside, the Bergen County bomb squad swept the building and gave the all clear after about three hours.
The lower level restroom where mall security found graffiti saying something about a bomb remained closed even after shoppers were allowed back inside, Conybeare reported.
Shopper Darissa Martinez said these days, the threat of terrorism casts its shadow nearly everywhere.
“I guess that’s life now right,” she said. “It’s awful you can’t even go Christmas shopping without being concerned something awful might happen.”
But some shoppers say they won’t let such scares keep them from this or any other mall.
“I’ll still pretty much go as planned, but always have my eyes and ears open for suspicious activity,” said shopper Brandon Palmer.
The incident was still an unsettling time for many.
“It makes me think that we’re not safe in America, all the things that are going on,” said shopper Tanya Jackson. “You really can’t go anywhere and enjoy yourself nowadays.”
Even though it turned out to be nothing, police and mall security have stepped up patrols and at least two stores remained closed after sending workers home during the three-hour evacuation.