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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 investigates a blue bag pulled from a car in the in the parking lot area of Whole Foods Market and Kohl's in Valencia Monday evening. Signal photo by Ryan Fonseca.

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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.


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SReilly12: Posted: June 24, 2014 2:55 a.m.

Seems to me that given the fact that a huge training exercise was just conducted a few weeks back at the mall, I would think the discussions about how to shut down the mall should have been short and sweet.

Glad this turned out to be nothing......

ricketzz: Posted: June 24, 2014 8:51 a.m.

Good god! If wires are suspicious I am screwed. My whole life is wires. This is what happens when cops overstimulate on caffeine then try to do their jobs. Panic. Out and out panic.

bobforte: Posted: June 24, 2014 9:36 a.m.

Poor containment by the SHeriff's Department. At no point should anyone be in line of view of the device. In one picture, the photographer shows the deputy behind a tree, but with the robot in the picture. IF an explosion occurred, then debris would hit the photographer.

In the last picture, a female is seen in the background watching the robot take care of the suspicious package. Again, an explosion and debris would go in her direction.

On the plus side, my wife had a 30% off coupon for Kohls that expired yesterday and she couldn't use it. This incident saved me a few hundred dollars because she will only go when she has the coupon.

EgbertSouse4U: Posted: June 24, 2014 10:58 a.m.

Now that makes you a prime suspect, bobforte!!

ElizaS: Posted: June 24, 2014 11:19 a.m.

bobforte: The photographer is probably using a zoom as they are further back then you think. I see at least four parking spots across which are 18' long each and two drive aisles between them which are 26' wide. This means they are at least ~125' away from the robot.

projalice11: Posted: June 24, 2014 12:14 p.m.

Not one post of concern that this happened in Santa Clarita..

EgbertSouse4U: Posted: June 24, 2014 12:28 p.m.

Lois: Maybe... just maybe... because nothing happened???

johnnyrock: Posted: June 24, 2014 12:53 p.m.

lol bobforte.............that is the only time I also shop at Kohl's.

stevehw: Posted: June 24, 2014 1:38 p.m.

Oh, for God's sake...

Does anyone see a pattern here? First, a big "training exercise" in terrorism or mass murder or what have you, and within a couple of weeks...TA DA! BOMB SCARE!

These guys should go back to rousting the kids on the paseos and arresting the thugs robbing people on their walks at night, and quit wasting time trying to justify their toys.

Unreal: Posted: June 24, 2014 1:39 p.m.

Too bad for the car owner if that was their computer. Sheesh.
I wonder if their insurance will cover this? If not car insurance than homeowners may cover it since this sounds like a desktop computer that would usually be kept at home.

bobforte: Posted: June 24, 2014 2:30 p.m.

ELiza, glad you think 125 feet is a safe distance.

tekmomllg: Posted: June 24, 2014 2:51 p.m.

lol Bobforte,
If your wife really wanted to use her coupon she should have just gone to the Kohls at Golden Valley... it's less crowded!

chefgirl358: Posted: June 24, 2014 3:11 p.m.

I told you that stupid mall training was a waste of time and resources. They never know what to do when something actually happens.

stevehw: Posted: June 24, 2014 3:57 p.m.

And to top it off, nothing *actually happened*. Other than the cops got to play with their robot.

Wonder how much that cost us?

bobforte: Posted: June 24, 2014 4:30 p.m.

The problem with the training exercises is that everyone involved is told the scenario before hand so they already know what to do. A better solution would be to surprise the trainees with the scenario.

SReilly12: Posted: June 24, 2014 4:38 p.m.

stevehw - so what are you saying......nothing should have been done? Oh I get it, LE is suppose to be physic.

stevehw: Posted: June 24, 2014 4:44 p.m.

Oh, come don't think this was more of an excuse for Podunk City PD here to play with their new toys?

DMeyer: Posted: June 24, 2014 5:49 p.m.

stevehw has a great idea. If you see a strange car parked in the lot at your work and that car is reported as stolen and has strange wires coming from it, DO NOT call the cops. You deal with it yourself, don't worry though most of the time it's nothing.

After all we don't want the trained professionals (the ones with all the toys) to deal with it, that might cost something.

Hope you don't get blown up...

stevehw: Posted: June 24, 2014 6:05 p.m.

Nice strawman, DM. Please point out where I said "don't call the cops". Please.

You like playing those kind of games, don't you, boy? Put words in peoples' mouths and then berate them for things they never said? Very mature, kid.

Do us all a favor and go play in traffic.

SReilly12: Posted: June 24, 2014 6:05 p.m.

No DM we should just call stevehw, he's such a braveheart!

DMeyer: Posted: June 24, 2014 6:55 p.m.

Wake up stevehw, it's not just me ridiculing you for your asinine comments. The shoe fits, just wear it.

ricketzz: Posted: June 25, 2014 8:58 a.m.

This place is too boring to be a target. The parking lot at Kohl's is not where a mad bomber would strike; little chance of mayhem. Around here it would probably be a church or a game or a movie, not a discount department store.

What is meant by "wires"? This fascinates me.

DMeyer: Posted: June 25, 2014 1:18 p.m.

ricetzzz in the latest article it says there was what looks like a suicide suicide bomber vest in the car. Worst case scenario...this is a trial run by a bad guy who wants to see how LE personnel respond and deal with this type of situation.

stevehw: Posted: June 25, 2014 1:45 p.m.

More likely...some earbuds hanging out of the pocket.

A "trial run by a bad guy"? Do you see monsters under your bed at night, too?

Al Qaeda has definitely won...look at how scared they made everyone.

CaptGene: Posted: June 25, 2014 4:58 p.m.

This article reads like a Reno 911! episode synopsis.

DMeyer: Posted: June 25, 2014 5:33 p.m.

Scared? No, but always aware.

Look who's talking, the paranoid one who thinks his own government is out to get him.

And how could Al Qaeda have won? Our esteemed president says that Al Qaeda has been defeated, you believe him don't you?

DMeyer: Posted: June 25, 2014 6:21 p.m.

This just in;

“The vest was actually a ‘suicide vest’ used as a movie prop,” he said. “It was designed specifically to look like an explosive device.”

It was taken during a burglary at the residence of a movie prop maker.

stevehw: Posted: June 25, 2014 11:48 p.m.

You know what? I'm going to take back what I said...given that it was actually something that was designed to look like a bomb, I apologize for jumping on their case.

They did the right thing.

DMeyer: Posted: June 26, 2014 12:55 a.m.

My faith has been restored in you stevehw. That shows character.

Don't worry, I'm sure it's only temporary.

stevehw: Posted: June 26, 2014 12:56 a.m.

Stay classy, DM.

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