Florence Mall, busy with a large crowd of holiday shoppers, was evacuated Saturday afternoon, after an explosion occurred on the premises.
According to reports, the explosion was a carbon dioxide tank from one of the restaurants in the food court.
Shoppers, after hearing the explosion, initially suspected the boom was a gunshot, possibly fired by an active shooter in the mall, or another explosive of some kind. Crowds began quickly running for cover, and the mall was briefly evacuated.
One shopper told the Enquirer that, as much as the sound of the explosion, seeing people running for the doors also caused a panic among shoppers.
Florence Police report there were no injuries as a result of the explosion or the subsequent rush for the doors.
WLWT reporter Sheree Paoloello shared her eye-witness account in a Facebook post, demonstrating the level of panic that ensued:
My poor kids can't stop talking about what happened at the Florence Mall yesterday. My 4-year old just said, "That store freaked me *really* out!" (sic). It was just some CO2 containers that exploded. But as we were standing in Macy's, a mob of people started running towards us screaming "There's a bomb!" and "There's a man shooting!" For 5 minutes it was sheer panic. By the time we got to the car my kids were all crying. Just crazy! Thank god it was nothing and no one was hurt. But I can't shake that feeling of "Oh my god what's happening?!" Can't even imagine how people feel after witnessing a real attack.
The Enquirer is reporting that the mall was back to "business as usual" in less than half an hour after the explosion. Mall employees are reported to have handled the situation "professionally," restoring calm quickly after the incident.
- Staff report