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Sunrise mall reopens after suitcases found harmless

Nassau County Police responded with a their bomb

Nassau County Police responded with a their bomb squad to the Westfield Sunrise Mall for a suspicious package. (Jan. 7, 2013) Photo Credit: NetworkNews LI

The Westfield Sunrise mall in Massapequa was reopened after a two-hour evacuation Monday night when police found nothing suspicious in suitcases and a shopping bag left near a jewelry store, authorities said.

Nassau police received a call about 5:45 p.m. after merchants said they noticed a woman walking back and forth repeatedly in the center court, in the vicinity of Sunrise Jewelers.

She was towing two suitcases and a shopping bag that she laid on the ground and then walked away, acting in an "incoherent manner," police said.

"She left them by the jewelry store, and then started walking around again," said Sabena Marrocha, of Lindenhurst, who works at the T-Mobile kiosk.

Mall security and police ordered shoppers and workers out, and a bomb disposal robot was sent in, along with the arson and bomb squads.

The mall reopened about 8 p.m. when nothing suspicious was found, police said. The suitcases and bag contained personal belongings, they said, and were not considered to be a threat.

Police said the woman, 31, of Amityville, was stopped in another area of the mall by Seventh Precinct officers and taken to a hospital for psychiatric evaluation. She was not arrested.

"It was freaky," said Prince Chapri, of Hicksville, another T-Mobile employee. "She was walking around with her eyes closed."

He and Marrocha said they first spotted the woman about 4 p.m. The woman resisted people's attempts to help her and get her to talk, the two workers said. When mall security tried to escort her elsewhere, she pulled away from them, the T-Mobile employees said.

Marrocha said she was worried for the woman. "People were taking pictures of her as though she were a joke, but I know she needed some help," she said.

Mall spokeswoman Maria DiLeo said mall security was cooperating with police and referred questions to police.

It's not clear how many shoppers left the mall, which has more than 100 outlets but Carolyn Schaedel, the mall's manager, said customer traffic is often lighter on Monday nights.

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