The evacuation announcement came over the loudspeaker at the Beverly Center in the early afternoon — a muffled voice telling shoppers that this was not a drill, everyone needed to leave the mall immediately.
Christina Taylor, a high school junior from Florida, had been browsing the racks at Bloomingdale's with her mom—their first stop after arriving in L.A. — when her mom grabbed her arm to get her attention. The two women couldn’t make out exactly what the announcer had said, but around them, workers in the store began panicking and running, Christina said.
With the recent shooting in Newtown, Conn., fresh on their minds, Christina and her mother rushed toward the escalators.
“I looked into the mall, and everyone was running toward the exit, but no one knew what was going on. Someone said it was fire, someone said it was a person with a gun,” Christina said. As hundreds of shoppers streamed down the escalators into the street outside, “It was chaotic, crazy,” she said. “I was worried for a lot of the kids there.”
The cause, it turned out, was a suspicious package that a shopper reported had been placed in his car in the Beverly Center parking lot without his knowledge. The man alerted police about the package around noon, and the Los Angeles Police Department dispatched the bomb squad, which was still on scene about 4 p.m.