The Burlington Mall, a 180-unit shopping center outside of Boston, has reopened after having been partially evacuated this morning following reports of a gunman.
SWAT teams and Massachusetts state and local police searched the mall and the surrounding area. What was thought to be a rifle was actually a large black umbrella in a black nylon sling, which “together looked really like a gun. It was remarkable. I can see how it was mistaken for a gun,” said Burlington Police Captain Gregg Skehan.
Shortly after 10 a.m., Massachusetts state and local police were called to the scene after mall security reported “a white male dressed in all-black appeared to be carrying a rifle and had just entered the lower-level bathroom in the Nordstrom store,” according to a statement released this afternoon by Burlington Police. The Northeastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council SWAT team also scoured the area.
Two shoppers spotted a man with what they believed to be a rifle and notified mall security. The mall’s evacuation started at 10:45 a.m., according to a spokeswoman for Simon Malls, which owns the shopping plaza. Sears, Burberry, Macy’s and various other tenants alerted their respective shoppers and left the building. But after news of the incident spread, some store employees were advised to lock themselves in for security purposes.
Reached by phone earlier today, an American Eagle staffer, who would only identify himself as “Tom,” said he and an undisclosed number of coworkers had done just that and were taking cover in an enclosed space at the rear of the store. When he was opening the gate at the store’s entrance, mall security advised him to close the gate and remain inside, he said. Updates about the situation were provided solely through phone calls and texts from family and friends, he said.
A Nordstrom spokeswoman said the sighting did not happen in its Burlington store. No one matching that description was spotted on the store’s video, nor did Burlington sales staff report seeing anyone, she said.