NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The discovery of a suspicious package prompted an evacuation at Trump Tower Tuesday afternoon, according to police.
The lobby of the Midtown building was evacuated as part of normal protocol, according to police.
A bag was left near the Nike Town store. The situation was brought under control around 5:00 pm after the package was determined to be a bag — containing children’s toys — that someone left behind.
The surrounding area between 59th and 50th Streets were closed between Madison and 6th Avenues while authorities conducted their investigation but have since reopened.
As CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported, visitors to the headquarters of the President-elect go through security screening, and there are bag checks both inside and outside of the building.
A bag of children’s toys would not elicit concern, but when it’s left unattended, someone will see something and say something, and that’s what happened on Tuesday.
In addition to the evacuation of the tower lobby, tenants of an adjoining building on Madison Ave were told to shelter in place during the scare.
Mr. Trump was not present, as he is in Florida this week.
For tourist Jerry Morris, the scare meant dinner plans were interrupted.
“I came 400 miles to eat at the Trump restaurant, and we’re just about ready to sit at the table they said, ‘get out.’ I said, ‘what?’ They said, ‘you gotta leave, there’s a threat,” he said.
The bag would have been x-rayed when brought into the building, but once left unattended, police couldn’t take a chance.
“They cannot afford to assume. The stakes are too high,” security expert Manny Gomez explained. “So they’re gonna practice their protocols which is to isolate and contain that piece of luggage.”
There was an even more chaotic scene at Jersey Gardens Mall on Monday night, after a false report of gun fire.
“If you think about social psychology, when we see other people running, we perceive that there’s a threat,” Dr. Alexander Stratyner said.
Dr. Stratyner said it’s clear that people are jittery these days, but overreacting to a security scare can be dangerous — 10 people were injured in last night’s mall evacuation.
“When you have mass panic over something that’s not actually a threat, understandably that leads to public chaos,” she said.
As for Trump Tower — don’t be surprised by additional security scares in the days ahead.
“The home, besides the White House, of the President of the United States and we are to expect that very tight security grid in a very busy commercial neighborhood,” Gomez said.
The evacuation even seemed to set off a Twitter war between the Trump and de Blasio camps. Once the ‘all clear’ was given, Sean Spicer — Trump’s pick for Press Secretary wrote, “Back to work. False alarm. Thanks NYPD.”
Mayor de Blasio’s Press Secretary Eric Phillips responded, “No problem. We’ll send you the bill.”
Trump’s social media adviser Dan Scavino then called Phillips an embarrassment. Phillips responded by saying the tweet wasn’t nice, and mentioned the bill again.
CBS2 has reached out to both sides for a comment, but has not heard back.