Police descend in force and cause further panic as a jewelry store robbery at a mall in California is mistaken for a terrorist attack.
Panic erupted in a California mall on Sunday as hundreds of holiday shoppers thought the sound of breaking glass was the crackling of gunfire. Shoppers began to flee in a panicked effort to find the nearest exits. Police were immediately summoned and they arrived in force.
The cause of the panic and the chaos was an attempted robbery at a jewelry store. At around 6:30 p.m. Pacific time on Sunday evening, holiday shoppers at the Galleria of Tyler in Riverside mall located 14 miles from San Bernardino in Riverside, thought what they heard were gunshots, according The Los Angeles Times.
What was actually happening was that three thieves were shattering glass jewelry cases inside Ben Bridge Jeweler with axes and hammers. That was enough for people to summon the police and scatter in panic. The robbery was captured on video and it shows the robbers destroying the glass display cases and a handful of the jewelry store’s patrons running out of the store.
The police arrived with helicopters in tow and police were sent to malls, shopping centers and theaters in nearby towns in what some have termed a severe over reaction. The jewel thieves managed their escape easily enough in all of the panicked fleeing of the crowds. Police located a vehicle that may have been used by them but, for the moment, they remain at large.
Witnesses said that the shattering glass sounded like gunshots to them which was what started the stampede for the exits. Witnesses describe women removing their high heels so that they could run better and that most shoppers were just dropping their shopping bags and running for the nearest exits.
Witnesses said it was bedlam, with no one seemingly worried about anyone else. People were crashing into and tripping over one another. People were being knocked down and being stepped on, witnesses said, and no one was bothering to stop and help these people up so they wouldn’t be trampled.