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‘BOMB’ at Peru Mall

Published: Monday, Dec. 3, 2012 3:43 p.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, Dec. 3, 2012 3:45 p.m. CDT

PERU — Peru Police Chief Doug Bernabei is not pleased with a “BOMB” acronym used by a distribution center which made an early Monday morning delivery to the Peru Mall.

At 6:57 a.m. Monday, the Peru Police Department responded to a 9-1-1 call from the JoAnn Fabrics store, which has recently relocated to the Peru Mall. Store employees were beginning to unload inventory packages from a semi delivery truck when an employee discovered a note attached to a small box. On the white piece of paper, written in big red letters, was the message “This is a new store. This store has not been bombed since (a certain date).” Though the date was written on the note, the police chief declined to give out that information.

Bernabei said the store employees immediately took the appropriate measures, clearing the area and calling 9-1-1. Initially responding to the scene was the Peru Police Patrol Division. When the sergeant viewed the packages and note, she made the notification at that point and called for additional Peru Police personnel, the Peru Fire Department, the Peru Ambulance, and the Peru Emergency Services and Disaster Agency. An incident command center was set up at the nearby former Kmart store parking lot.

Bernabei said the mall was evacuated of all employees from the various stores within the mall, as well as the early morning walkers who were in the mall at the time. All entrances to the mall were shut off. The entire area was secured from 36th Street on the south to 38th Street on the north, from Route 251 to the east to North Peoria Street on the west. The semi truck was moved away from the building.

The Secretary of State Police Bomb Squad was also notified, coming from Springfield.

While waiting for the bomb squad to arrive, Bernabei said the local investigation was continuing and it was learned the distribution center in the state of Ohio uses a “BOMB” acronym in its shipping industry. The acronym stands for “Billed Order Maintenance & Batching.”

Bernabei said a photo of the note was electronically sent to the distribution center. He spoke with executives at the distribution center and with the individual who loaded the truck headed for JoAnn Fabrics at the Peru Mall. The individual confirmed he wrote the note.

The executive assured Bernabei the company has not had a problem with its acronym before, but it is currently considering a change. Hopefully that change will come sooner than originally anticipated, the police chief said.

“I am in a state of shock that a national company or distribution center, in today’s day and age, would use the acronym BOMB,” Bernabei said. “I am speechless.”

At 9:45 a.m. Monday, Bernabei released the Peru Mall scene back to mall employees to get ready for its usual 10 a.m. opening.

Bernabei commended the JoAnn Fabrics employees, as well as everyone else within the mall, for their handling of the situation.

“I’m very pleased and proud of the people at JoAnn Fabrics who acted very appropriately and professionally and took this note very seriously,” the police chief said. “This was an extremely credible bomb threat for the entire mall. This was a very scary thing for them.”

However, Bernabei said he remains very frustrated and disappointed with the distribution center. He has assured the vice president of operations for the distribution center that he (Bernabei) will be having a conversation with him in the near future about that acronym.

Comment on this story at www.bcrnews.com.

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