Dec 22, 2010 11:34 PM by Maddie Garrett

Emergency Evacuations Take Toll on Shoppers, Police Resources

There have been four emergency evacuations in Lafayette in less than a week, all due to calls about suspicious devices. The Mall of Acadiana was the most recent site of an emergency evacuation. And with so many shoppers packed into the mall for the busiest shopping week of the year, Lafayette Police said it wasn't easy clearing out the area.

"It takes a lot of resources in order to clear a retail outlet such as the Mall of Acadiana," said Paul Mouton with the Lafayette Police Department.

But that's just what they did Tuesday night after a suspicious device was found outside of the mall. Courtney Frey and her daughter Logyn said they were practically dragged out of the dressing rooms at Dillards.

"We were trying on some dresses and I was in the dressing room and all of a sudden I hear this security guard screaming emergency, emergency evacuate the 3rd floor," said 11-year-old Logyn.

Her mother Courtney knew it was serious when she saw the security guard.

"And the look on his face you could have sworn that he just saw a ghost, he looked scared to death," said Courtney.

Courtney says she grabbed her daughter and bolted for the doors.

"We literally ran down the escalators, they were still moving, and I had her shoes in my hand, she didn't have any shoes on until we got outside," said Courtney.

But once they got outside the mall the scene wasn't much better. Cop cars, fire trucks and haz-mat crews were everywhere.

"We had to bring in several officers from several neighboring precincts in order to adjust our man power so that we could remove everyone from the mall," said Mouton.

Stores lost some business, shoppers left empty handed and crews worked into the night. But Mouton said you can never be too careful in situations like this one.

"We always treat it as the worst hoping for the best," he said.

As for that suspicious device, Mouton said detectives are now trying to figure out where it came from and who left it outside the mall. They aren't releasing what it is yet though, because they will use that information to hopefully pin down a suspect. And Mouton said depending on the situation, that person could face criminal charges.



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