Threat at Starbucks closes a dozen stores, brings out bomb squad

ST. GEORGE — More than a dozen stores at The Outlets at Zion were evacuated and temporarily closed after Starbucks received a bomb threat over the phone, prompting the bomb squad to sweep the area before it was cleared for business Friday afternoon

The Washington County Bomb Squad responds to The Outlets at Zion after the Starbucks on River Road received a bomb threat, St. George, Utah, May 10, 2019 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

Just after 12:30 p.m. officers responded to Starbucks on River Road after the store received a phone call saying a bomb had been placed in the building, St. George Police officer Tiffany Atkin said.

A K-9 unit was also dispatched to the scene and during a sweep of the area the animal indicated to the possible presence of an explosive, at which time officers cleared a 300-foot perimeter around the building. All stores at The Outlets of Zion south of HuHot Mongolian Grill were evacuated and closed.

“Protocol is that about 300 feet are evacuated and cleared with this type of incident,” Atkin said.

Large crowds began to assemble as officers taped off the parking lot.

Washington County Bomb Squad members wearing protective gear responded, along with two remote-controlled bomb-detecting robots that maneuvered around the area that the K-9 alerted to.

Starbucks on River Road is deserted after police evacuate the building until the bomb squad arrives after a bomb threat is called into the store, St. George, Utah, May 10, 2019 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

The bomb squad went through a pair of trash cans, inspecting all of the contents using an X-ray device.

After the robots completed the sweep of the area and did not detect any dangerous materials, the area was cleared by police and the stores reopened for customers sometime after 4 p.m.

Atkin said that K-9s are training in bomb detection using plastics, and the animal could have alerted on a material that was similar to what was used during training.

Either way, she said, once the dog reacted they automatically call out the bomb squad to do the sweep, as “it’s better to error on the side of caution to make sure the public is safe,” she said. “It’s better to be safe than sorry.”

This report is based on statements from police or other responders and may not contain the full scope of findings. Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.

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Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.


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