Gwinnett County police, sheriff’s deputies and fire and emergency services personnel responded to the Mall of Georgia on Wednesday afternoon after an unknown caller claimed he had placed bombs inside the shopping center that would detonate within hours.
No bombs were found in a nearly 2-hour search of the 1.8 million square foot property. The threat was made via a phone call to a mall kiosk, according to Cpl. Michele Pihera, a police spokeswoman. Mall staff then reported the threat to Gwinnett County police. Law enforcement responded to the mall shortly after 2 p.m. and ended shortly before 4 p.m.
Officers checked every store in the mall, but were not searching for a specific item, Pihera said.
“They are looking for anything suspicious,” Pihera said during the search. “It could be a backpack. It could be a box. It could be a person.”
The department also used a helicopter to search for any suspicious persons or vehicles around the mall.
One man was detained as a result of the ongoing search, but it is unclear whether he is related to the threat. The man was found in an empty movie theater and was detained by officers after he did not comply with their commands, Pihera said.
People across the country have been on edge after mass shootings occurred in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas this past weekend, killing 31 people. A motorcycle backfiring near Times Square in New York was confused for gunshots Tuesday night, leading to panic in Broadway theaters and the surrounding streets. A report of a man with a gun at the Virginia office of USA Today caused concern Wednesday morning, but the report was later determined unfounded.
Pihera said the multi-agency response to the mall was not because of the recent shootings.
“Regardless of what was happening in our nation, in Ohio and in Texas, we would have had the same response,” Pihera said.
While the search is over, the investigation will continue, Pihera said.
Anyone with information about this case is asked to contact Gwinnett County detectives at 770-513-5300 or Crime Stoppers at 404-577-8477. Crime Stoppers tips may be rewarded with up to $2,000 if they lead to an arrest or indictment.