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Two suspicious packages “rendered safe” in Valencia

Posted: June 23, 2014 8:15 p.m.
Updated: June 23, 2014 11:03 p.m.

A Sheriff's Arson/Explosives robot is sent to investigate a suspicious package in the parking lot area of Whole Foods Market and Kohl's in Valencia Monday evening. Signal photo by Austin Dave.

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Sheriff’s Department bomb squad deputies shut down a shopping center between Delmonte Drive and Valencia Boulevard near McBean Parkway Monday after they discovered two suspicious packages — one in a car parked at the center and another in a bush in the same parking lot — according to officials with the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station.

Almost four hours after the bomb scare began, the two suspicious packages were “rendered safe” by deputies, said Deputy Josh Dubin.

“There was no explosive found whatsoever,” Dubin said at 9:20 p.m. “Deputies are now in the process of double-checking the parking lot to make sure there are no other suspicious devices.

“We should have things reopened here soon,” he added.

At about 5:30 p.m., deputies responded to the 23700 block of Del Monte Drive, Valencia regarding a vehicle that was just stolen by an unknown suspect, Deputy Josh Dubin said.

“Deputies immediately began to search the area for the late model Toyota Camry that was reported stolen,” he said.

 

 

Deputies found the vehicle, now abandoned, parked in the parking lot area of Whole Foods Market and Kohl’s on 24100 block of Valencia Blvd.

“Inside the stolen vehicle deputies saw a suspicious package that contained wires and other suspicious items,” Dubin said.

Deputies roped off a large part of the Valencia shopping center parking lot at the corner of Valencia Boulevard and McBean Parkway on Monday on apparent reports of a bomb in a car.

A Sheriff’s Department robot pulled a blue vinyl bag of material out of a burgandy-colored sedan parked in the taped-off area between Whole Foods Market and Kohl’s shortly before 7:45 p.m. and began picking through the contents strewn on the ground next to the car.

Once the bag was pulled through the open driver’s door window, the contents — including what appeared to be a desktop computer — crashed onto the asphalt.

At 7:55 p.m., the robot pulled what appeared to be a padded vest-like garment from the bag and left it near a white BMW.

Five minutes later, the robot arm poked at a metal cylinder the size of a coffee tin.

Deputies who set up a command post near McBean and Delmonte reported no injuries, no explosion and no fire.

“They’re just taking all precaution,” Dubin said.

Shortly after 8 p.m., deputies widened the restricted area in the parking lot, telling motorists to leave the area or risk having their vehicles trapped inside the restricted area. More than 200 vehicles in the parking lot used by Kohl’s and Whole Foods shoppers became trapped inside the perimeter.

Shortly after 8:20 p.m., deputies reported another suspicious package in a bush, at the opposite end of the same parking lot, near Islands Restaurant, along Valencia Boulevard, Dubin said.

They evacuated the Kohl’s and the Whole Foods stores and told patrons visiting smaller shops at the same center to leave. No one answered the phone at Islands at 8:30 p.m.

Deputies then began stopping motorists from entering the parking lot from Valencia Boulevard.

By 8:30 p.m., deputies shut down the entire shopping center between Valencia and Delmonte, and east of McBean Parkway. Only Starbucks and Corner Bakery remained open at 8:30 p.m. as deputies continued to shut down businesses.

“They shut us down a while ago,” said a spokeswoman contacted by phone inside Kohl’s.

Sheriff’s Capt. Roosevelt Johnson told The Signal at the scene: “Over the course of this investigation, deputies located a second suspicious device near the Islands restaurant and they are going to render that device safely.”

At 8:45 p.m., deputies called on the city of Santa Clarita to help with traffic control, requesting that workers bring traffic cones.

Deputies then began discussing ways to shut down the Valencia Westfield Town Center mall as a precaution.

 

jholt@signalscv.com

661-287-5527

On Twitter

@jamesarthurholt

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