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NE Bend shopping center locked down over gun report

By Nina Mehlhaf
Published On: Sep 08 2012 12:49:03 AM CDT
Updated On: Sep 08 2012 02:10:18 AM CDT

NewsChannel 21's Nina Mehlhaf was at Bend's Forum Shopping Center, where police converged after report of man waving gun -- finding nothing, they believe it was a hoax

BEND, Ore. -

Hundreds of shoppers were locked in stores at the Forum Shopping Center in northeast Bend for a time Friday night after a woman called Deschutes County 911 dispatchers, saying a man was waving a gun in the Safeway parking lot, threatening to shoot people.

But after a half-hour of police searching and customer stress, police said they found no such suspect, and believed it may have been a hoax report.

The call came in to dispatchers around 7:45 p.m., and the woman gave a vague description of a man waving a gun around in the east Bend Safeway parking lot, near 27th Street and Highway 20, appearing to be on drugs or drunk, threatening to shoot people.

As a precaution, dispatchers called several nearby stores, including Safeway, Big Lots, Old Navy and Whole Foods, to have employees lock their doors and keep people inside.

Others arriving in the area saw officers with guns drawn at each Safeway entrance while others were inside, looking for a suspect, but finding none.

The stores were cleared and open again by around 8:15 p.m.

Officers said they believe it could be a hoax, and that they were working to find the woman who called, who could be charged with making a false police report.

One Safeway shopper, Sydney Beard, told NewsChannel 21 the first announcement over the intercom was that due to "unfortunate events," the store was on lockdown until further notice and no one could leave.

Ten minutes later, she said, came another announcement -- that employees and customers should "grab their children and leave your cart where it is and exit out of the left exit, where cops with guns were outside guarding their doors."

"It was quite an interesting shopping trip!" Beard wrote.

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