Customers sprinted from Dadeland Mall Monday night after a bomb threat was called into one of the Kendall mall’s stores.
Luis Camejo, a Rosetta Stone mall employee, said customers suddenly started running toward the exits with more people on their heels. With security running in the opposite direction and no one directing the crowd, the situation soon devolved into chaos as people starting tripping over one another and screaming “bomb!”
“It went into panic mode,” he said. “We just saw people start to run.”
The bomb threat, called into the Pandora jewelry store about 7 p.m., turned out to be a false alarm. Miami-Dade Police responded to the incident, bringing in bomb dogs and determining the mall to be safe.
But the incident has some employees concerned about how prepared the mall is for a real emergency, especially in light of incidences in public spaces, namely the theater shooting in Aurora, Colo, and the shooting at a temple in Oak Creek, Wis.
When the bomb threat was called in, MAC employee Stephanie Currais saw a security guard waving his arms toward the Macy’s exit, saying everyone needed to evacuate.
She said her side of the mall was fairly calm, but over on the east side, customers panicked.
Camejo said he saw security guards, but they were running in the opposite direction of the customers, and they weren’t explaining what had happened.
A few customers started running toward the exit, which started a chain reaction. People started tripping over one another and screaming. In the food court, customers dropped ice cream cones in a mad rush to the exits.
“When I look to my right, I saw a stampede of people,” said Body Therapy employee Jose Orvera.
Camejo said he saw a young child crying, separated from his parents.
By 8:15 p.m., security officials gave the all clear and shoppers were allowed to return inside the mall.
“I don’t think they’re really organized when it comes to stuff like this,” Camejo said, noting each mall kiosk has the number for the mall’s security desk.
He said he’s never done a fire drill or been given instructions about what to do if an emergency happens, other than calling 911.
Currais said she’s worked for MAC for a year, and she’s never done a fire drill or any other type of emergency drill, a fact that worries her.
“We’ve had alarms go off, but nobody leaves,” she said. “Imagine if today was Saturday. It would’ve been 10 times worse.