Amanda Brownschlaigle-Miller was working her third day at Metalsmiths in Orchard Park shopping centre Wednesday, when she read a text message from her friend that said there was a fire at Sears on the other side of the mall.
“It was about 1:45 p.m., and she told me the store had been shut down because of a fire,” she said, noting that signs to that effect had gone up as doors were shuttered.
Then, an hour later, all mall staff were given the order to lock up and file outside, along with all of the customers who were shopping.
It wasn’t the easiest task to herd shoppers out, with so little information, said Riley Hannan of EB Games. But, he managed, and by the time he found his way outside where hundreds of other mall employees were gathered, he learned it was a bomb threat.
That sparked a bit of deja vu, given he had already gone through the process of a bomb threat last year.
“At least it’s warm out this time,” he joked, as helicopters buzzed overhead.
Key holders at mall stores have to linger as police work to figure out what’s what.
City buses were rolled in, just in case anybody needed to take a break somewhere air conditioned and covered, but other than that they were on their own.
Many were there until the RCMP bomb crew from Vancouver arrived at just after 7 p.m..
What they discovered, said Cpl. Joe Duncan, was that the package was indeed “suspicious.”
“There were no explosives in it, but there were incendiaries,” he said.
“It was found by a store employee when it was on fire, and they put it out, but when our members attended they looked at it and called in the explosive unit.”
They arrived and agreed that it looked like a problem.
“They said it’s something very suspicious and destroyed it,” he said.
So, what is suspicious?
That question will remain unanswered. All Duncan could confirm is that the smoking package wasn’t explosive in nature.
While the suspicious non-bomb kept police in Kelowna busy, just a couple of hours away in Kamloops a similar scenario was rolling out.
Threatening calls to a Kamloops elementary—along with other schools across the province— from a blocked source prompted school officials to bus children out of the vicinity.
Add to that recent bomb fears at Kelowna’s armoury as well as a recent scare at a Penticton elementary school, one might think the Interior has gone a little bomb-threat crazy.
Not so, said Duncan.
“People are just more perceptive to suspicious packages with the way things are nowadays,” he said.
“You just have to watch the national news, or CNN to see why they are more concerned.”
In the meantime, they’re on the lookout for the person who caused the problem with his smoking package.
Kelowna RCMP is requesting the public’s assistance in identifying the person in the photos.
The suspect is described as:
· 5’9 – 6’0 (175 cm to 182 cm)
· Average build
· Wearing glasses
· Dark jacket
· Dark baseball cap with white lettering on the front
· Dark backpack
Anyone with any information is asked to contact the Kelowna RCMP at 250-762-3300. Remain anonymous by calling Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477, leaving a tip online at www.crimestoppers.net or by texting your tip to CRIMES (274637) ktown.