Northwoods Mall was evacuated for about 2½ hours Saturday due to a bomb threat.
The mall was cleared out about 2 p.m. after a note was found indicating some type of device might be in the mall, according to a news release.
“I was in the dressing room of Victoria’s Secret and they were hollering ‘Everybody get out!’” said shopper Patricia White, who recently moved to Savannah from North Charleston. “I said, “Hey, I don’t have any clothes on!”
She dressed hurriedly and was hustled from the store, she said.
“I liked what I had on and I said, ‘I want to buy this stuff,’ but they said, “You’ve got to leave now,’” she said.
She said nobody knew what was going on until they got outside.
The area around the mall was blocked off and shoppers were asked to avoid the area, North Charleston police spokesman Spencer Pryor said.
The mall was ringed with police cars, fire trucks, ambulances and a Bomb Squad vehicle from the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office.
Store employees milled about the parking lot, but most shoppers left.
In clear, 80-plus-degree weather with blue skies, employees of Belk department store huddled under two beach umbrellas and sipped soft drinks while at the other end of the mall, Sears employees gathered under a stand of trees.
“I thought I was going to miss out on the pretty weather because I had to work,” one said. “Now I’m worried about getting sunburned.”
The search seemed to be concentrated around the areas of Sears and Dillards, where officers looked around hedges and inside trash receptacles.
Several nearby restaurants enjoyed a brisk business from those forced to leave the shopping center.
About 4:30 p.m. the mall reopened and Pryor sent out a news release saying the Sheriff’s Office Bomb Squad had checked the mall and no device was found.
He referred questions to the mall management.
“We worked with the police department and followed protocol,” said mall spokeswoman Leigh Burnett. “The mall is reopened and everything is fine. Nothing was found.”
While the major department stores reopened quickly, several stores and kiosks stayed closed.