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Capital City Mall evacuated due to bomb threat, officials say

According to officials with the Department of Public Safety in Cumberland County, the Capital City Mall was evacuated due to a bomb threat.

CUMBERLAND COUNTY, Pa. — The Capital City Mall was evacuated on Monday due to a bomb threat.

According to officials with the Department of Public Safety in Cumberland County, the Capital City Mall in Camp Hill was evacuated and people were to avoid the area until further notice.

Police say around 10:35 a.m. on Sept. 18, a bomb threat was received via e-mail.

The mall was then evacuated, and was searched by bomb dogs.

Around 3:00 p.m., the mall reopened.

Authorities say they believe this is part of a larger "swatting" event that occurred earlier this morning involving school districts across the Commonwealth.

Swatting is defined as the action or practice of making a prank call to emergency services in an attempt to bring about the dispatch of a large number of armed police officers to a particular address.

"We’ve followed a bunch of calls from school districts throughout the commonwealth of Pennsylvania," said David Holl, director of public safety for the Lower Allen Township Police Department. "So, we’ll be looking at those to see what the similarities are between the email that we received."

They add, despite it being a false threat, it was still a serious incident that took a major toll on all parties involved.

"You have workers in the mall that are released, people who are shoppers that are coming to the mall that are impacted by this," said Holl. "You certainly have all the public safety that’s here when they could be doing other jobs and responding to other incidents." 

Capital City Mall workers say uncertainty was their biggest concern while they were being evacuated.

"It was kind of frightening, just not knowing is scary because we weren’t sure whether it was some gunman running through or maybe a bomb threat or something. It was scary," said Angella Gaskin, a JC Penney's employee at Capital City Mall.

And despite the uncertainty, officials commend the response by the mall’s occupants and emergency units involved for a safe and smooth evacuation process.

"I think it’s everybody coming together to do the best that they can and provide the best response because it’s the safety of the folks here that is paramount and for us to take into consideration," said Holl. 

An investigation into Monday's false threat and its connection with the other swatting incidents that occurred statewide is ongoing.

Officials say a series of criminal charges can be brought against the person who may be responsible for the false threat and will discuss with the district attorney’s office before any of those are filed.

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