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'Suspicious' substance at mall was woman's ashes

2:58 PM, Oct 16, 2013   |    comments
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Sarasota, Florida -- There were tense moments on Tuesday at the Westfield Southgate Mall as police and hazmat crews responded to reports of a man who threw an unknown white powder inside a LensCrafters store and then fled.

"It's a pretty scary situation," shopper Debbie Shapiro told 10 News afterwards.

The LensCrafters was evacuated and the mall shut down for several hours before investigators determined the substance was harmless. Police described the powder as a "crushed-up solid," and the FBI was called to assist in the investigation.

A day later, detectives revealed they have some surprising answers: the suspicious powder was actually the cremated ashes of a woman.

The suspect? He was the woman's grieving fiance.

And why LensCrafters? Police say the couple had some sort of connection to the store, and the fiance had spent the day going to various locations that held personal significance in order to spread the cremated remains.

Police say the man will not face any charges over the misunderstanding, but the mall and the Sarasota Fire Department could seek to recover civil costs from him.

WTSP

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