Sarasota shopping mall re-opened after hazmat scare

October 15, 2013 

Just before noon Tuesday, someone walked into the Lens Crafters store at the Westfield Southgate Shopping Center in Sarasota, threw an unknown substance and fled the area, causing an evacuation. PHOTO PROVIDED/Sarasota Police Department

MANATEE -- Westfield Southgate Shopping Center in Sarasota has reopened after it was locked down when someone threw an unknown substance into the Lens Crafter store and fled the area, according to Sarasota police.

The incident happened just before noon at the mall, which is at the intersection of U.S. 41 and Bee Ridge Road.

The mall was locked down, and people inside were asked to shelter in place until officials could determine the nature of the substance.

A Sarasota County Fire Department hazardous materials team investigated and determined the substance, believed to be a solid product crushed up, was not harmful, police said.

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