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Vest among contents of fake bomb that shut down Valencia shopping center

Garment believed to be a ‘blatant’ attempt to mimic explosive

Posted: June 24, 2014 5:36 p.m.
Updated: June 24, 2014 5:36 p.m.

A sheriff's Arson/Explosives Detail robot lifts a package from a stolen Camry that was believed to be a bomb during a scare at a Valencia shopping center on Monday. Signal photo by Austin Dave

 

The contents of a suspicious-looking package that included a “suicide vest” fastened with protruding wires was being studied Tuesday after a bomb scare that shut down a Valencia shopping center.

“The package inside the vehicle would raise the concerns of any common person,” Deputy Josh Dubin said Tuesday. “Based on what we could visually see of the package, any person would have done the same thing.

“It was blatant,” Dubin said.

The package was spotted inside a stolen car parked at the shopping center on McBean Parkway and Valencia Boulevard about 5:30 p.m. Monday. The burgundy-colored Toyota Camry had just been reported stolen from nearby Del Monte Drive.

“When they rolled up on it they looked in the (car) window and saw a suspicious package,” Dubin said of deputies who spotted the stolen vehicle parked in the lot between Kohl’s and Whole Foods Market.

“Some of the media called it a suicide vest. It looked like an Airsoft vest with wires sticking out of it.”

An Airsoft vest is a body armor garment manufactured by the Airsoft Company. Certain tan-colored models of the body armor resemble protective vests worn by law enforcement or military personnel.

Deputies who found the suspicious package contacted the Sheriff’s Department bomb squad and taped off part of the parking lot, stranding shoppers who were evacuated from Kohl’s and Whole Foods and were not allowed to get to their cars.

The evacuation was expanded to nearly the entire center after a civilian found another suspicious package in a bush near Islands Restaurant shortly before 8:30 p.m.

That package turned out to contain a sweater, a duffle bag and other “random property,” Dubin said.

Both the FBI and the Sheriff’s Department Arson/Explosives Detail rolled to the scene, and a robot removed the suspicious package from the Camry through an open car window shortly before 8 p.m.

The contents included the vest and what appeared to be a desktop computer.

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

No one has been arrested or identified as a suspect, and the investigation was ongoing.

“We had to take precautions,” Dubin said. “It’s better to be safe than sorry.”

jholt@signalscv.com
661-287-5527
On Twitter @jamesarthurholt

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