Police in Florida say a man who threw a “suspicious” substance into a store at a mall on Tuesday, triggering a hazardous materials investigation, was spreading his fiancée’s ashes.
Police Lt. Pat Ledwith said the man, whom police are not identifying, was still mourning the loss of his fiancée, who died several months ago and had a connection to the LensCrafters at Westfield Southgate Shopping Center in Sarasota, and decided to spread her ashes at the mall.
At about 11:20am, he spread part of the ashes at the LensCrafters store, and it was a report of that incident that triggered the emergency response.
Officials closed the mall, not allowing people in or out of the shopping center during the investigation. The mall was reopened at about 1:45pm.
“He did not realize the commotion he would cause,” Ledwith said, adding the man didn’t see any media reports or know about the investigation until he was contacted by police.
Ledwith said the man was “very apologetic” and had “no malicious intent.” Police have offered him grief counselling though its victim advocacy program.
There is security video of the man surreptitiously sprinkling the ashes on the floor through the mall, Ledwith said.
Ledwith said police do not plan to charge the man.
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