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Central Mall: Business as Usual

It should be "business as usual" this morning, at the busy Lawton Central Mall.

This after a two hour evacuation yesterday afternoon.

The north portion of Central Mall near the movie theaters and food court was blocked off around 3pm Monday and evacuated after mall security found a duffel bag and a suitcase next to a bench near the movie theater. The Lawton Police Department was called and a bomb squad was brought in as a precaution.

While the investigation was going on, a man informed officers that he was the owner of the bags. Inside were clothes and dirty laundry. He said he'd left them near the bench while he walked through the mall.

Around 4:30pm, police gave the all-clear, and allowed workers and shoppers to return to the north wing.  Still, some workers in other sections of the mall wondered why the initial news of the evacuations didn't reach them.  "None of the mall employees knew anything about it," said Mark Gavina, a retail store manager.  "Nobody notified us or told us anything about what is going on. I actually just heard from a friend."

But, others got the message loud and clear.  "We really didn't know what was going on, then all of a sudden, we were told we had to evacuate cause there was an unidentified package or luggage," said Keith Tillman, a mall employee.

Shoppers got this message too.  "Just as we were walking in the food court, they started blocking it off and they pushed us all back and said, 'You can't come in here,'" said Angie Jenkins. "We didn't know why, but we just went about our shopping.

Police were not taking the situation lightly. There were ambulances, fire trucks and police cars at the scene, and it was all done just in case.

Although these evacuations dampened the shopping day for several individuals, they said they are still happy to know that if something like this were to happen, the mall and police department are prepared to handle the situation.

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