American Dream mall in N.J. briefly evacuated on Black Friday over bomb threat


American Dream megamall and entertainment complex in East Rutherford, N.J. After more than 17 years in the making, it finally opened October 25, 2019. Then came the coronoavirus pandemic.

Timothy A. Clary | AFP | Getty Images

New Jersey’s American Dream mall – the second largest mall in the country – was evacuated minutes after it opened on Black Friday because of a bomb threat that was later deemed unfounded, police said.

Around 7:13 a.m. ET on Friday, just after American Dream opened its doors at 7 a.m., a person told police there was a bomb inside the facility, forcing officers to evacuate the shopping center so they could search it, a spokesperson for the New Jersey State Police told CNBC.

The agency’s bomb and K-9 units swept the East Rutherford mall for explosive devices but didn’t find any, the spokesperson said. Police reopened American Dream around 9:15 a.m. for shoppers and retail workers, the mall said.

“The mall has been deemed safe and American Dream will be returning to normal operations. This is still an active investigation and there is no additional information available,” the spokesperson said.

The evacuation lasted a little under two hours.

“American Dream was evacuated this morning following what was later deemed a non-credible threat. This was done out of an abundance of caution, as the safety of our employees and guests is and will always be our priority,” American Dream told CNBC in a statement. “The center has already re-opened. We look forward to a joyous and safe holiday season.”

Prior to the mall reopening, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy posted about the evacuation on X, formerly known as Twitter. He urged shoppers to heed instructions from law enforcement and walk safely to the nearest exit.

“We will remain vigilant to ensure everyone stays safe this holiday season,” he said after the mall was reopened.

The evacuation came on the largest shopping day of the year, when many Americans are expected to flood malls across the country in search of the best holiday deals. The shopping holiday poses unique risks to retailers because of the large crowds that it draws. In years past, fights have broken out between customers, and others were injured in stampedes.

Compounding the issue is the nationwide rise in mass shooting events, which have happened at a number of grocery stores and other retail establishments such as Walmart.

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