A device sheriff’s deputies called “suspicious” was left on a table inside a Spokane Valley mall, forcing its evacuation during the Christmas buying rush Wednesday night.
Four hours later, authorities determined the device was not a bomb.
About 5 p.m., a man walked into University City Shopping Center and left what looked like a tape recorder on a table next to a restaurant, said Sheriff’s Lt. David Wiyrick.
When the man did not return for it, an employee called security officers, who made the decision to evacuate.
Dozens of employees and customers were chased from the mall, according to public relations director Laurie Hatch.
“We were pretty busy,” she said.
Elvis, the city-county bomb squad robot, entered the building through the J.C. Penney entrance at about 8 p.m. to inspect the device. The robot destroyed it an hour later.
Deputies believe the device was an ordinary tape recorder, and recovered a cassette tape as evidence.
No bomb threat was phoned in Wednesday night, Wiyrick said.
The mall did not reopen Wednesday night, but planned to resume normal business hours today, Hatch said. Stores are open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
The bomb scare was the second to hit Valley businesses in less than a month.
On Nov. 30, a man called ShopKo, 13414 E. Sprague, and told employees he left five packages containing bombs scattered throughout the store. Two packages were found, but neither contained explosives.