UPDATED: Bomb Threat at Ballston Common Mall

by ARLnow.com May 2, 2012 at 10:47 am 5,139 57 Comments

(Updated at 12:05 a.m.) Police are now clearing the scene at Ballston Common Mall after a phoned-in bomb threat.

Three separate bomb threats were phoned in to authorities: one to Prince George’s County dispatchers, one to Arlington, and one directly to the mall, according to Arlington County police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. It’s not clear if the threats all were made by the same individual.

Mall security has informed stores of the threat but decided not to evacuate, Sternbeck said. Police officers and two K-9 units searched inside and outside the building but found nothing.

“We want to be very thorough in our sweep and… in deeming it safe,” said Sternbeck during the search. “If we did find something we deemed legitimate we would have the authority to bring everyone out [of the mall].”

Dozens of shoppers and workers on their lunch break could be seen carrying on normal daily business inside the mall during the incident. One lane of Wilson Boulevard was partially blocked by police vehicles outside the mall. As of 11:50 a.m., most of the police response was packing up and starting to clear the scene.


  • George


    • George


      The time is wrong:

      Updated at 12:05 a.m.

  • ArlRes

    Someone has apparently taken the renovation of the mall into their own hands

    • JamesE

      First thing I thought

      • South Awwlington

        Me three!

        • Architecture Fan


    • nom de guerre

      My source informs me that someone at the mall has indeed taken something into their own hands but it isn’t the renovation. It’s their _ _ _ _ _ _ _ .

      • WeiQiang

        Ballston Common DOES have a Macy*s.

    • .T-G.E.O.A

      You found a tasteful way to say it. Kudos.

    • karzai

      My thoughts exactly. Question the Developer !!!!

  • Tabs


  • Ballston B

    I think someone was jumping to conclusions on why the mall was empty. Turns out, it was empty because it sucks.

    • V

      LOL. Not as bad as Springfield Mall.

      • nom de guerre

        What about Landmark Mall?

    • Architecture Fan


  • Lloyd

    Angry Rangers fan probably.

    • DarkHeart

      ESPN980 Let’s Go Caps Lloyd?

  • jeez that mall is such a dump. raze it & make it a park or more overpriced apartments or something. total waste of land.

    • Richard Cranium

      The people in the office building that sits on top of that mall might not be so fond of your suggestion.

      Just sayin’

  • Schmeff

    If the mall blew up and there weren’t any injuries, I don’t think many would be terribly upset.

  • Bomber

    Why the ____ would I blow up chick-fil-a it’s _______ delicious!

  • G Clifford Prout (now moderated for extra purity)

    It’s like what I was thinking yesterday regarding the nutjobs that were going to blow up the bridge in Cleveland. All the bridges there are about to fall down on their own. No one needs to add C4 to the mix.

    • Everything there but nothing good

      Higher end stors clearly have decided not to compete with themselves in a dumpy mall near so many nicer ones. I wish the mall would re-brand itself as an entertainment complex. They already have a movie theater and a lame comedy club and some sports bars and a gym. Not to mention the ice arenas. What about more specialty gyms, a bowling alley, a better arcade, I don’t know, laser tag, better restaurants, specialty stores and boutiques, artists and craft vendors, etc.? I like having Macy’s there, even though it’s a sorry store – easy to run in for basics. Anyway, that’s what the economic developer in my head is saying……

      • BoredHouseWife

        roller rink
        dave and busters

      • karzai

        You’re definitely onto a thematic concept that would work there. And, after all, they have opened out some of the ground floor restaurant space to the street front, and the ice skating rink was a great addition, etc. So, the thing is salvageable, with more work and out of the box thinking.

  • Paul Blart

    I bet it is the Chick-Fil-A cows

  • Joe

    Probably what Lloyd said, its probably an angry Rangers fan…

  • balles qui traversent votre visage

    and nothing of value would be lost

  • ArlingtonNative

    Poor Ballston…it has had issues from the very start. And I have to agree, Chick-Fil-A is the best thing that mall has going!

  • Cheeze

    I work in the building attached at Rock Bottom/Union Jacks. We were evacuated but we’re back inside already.

    • .T-G.E.O.A

      You were all given enemas? Gross.

      • drax

        Well, after he ate at Union Jack’s it was necessary.

    • Ballston101

      I work in Ballston and we weren’t evacuated because there wasn’t any real threat…We worked close with ACPD though.

  • novateve

    Given the entire ACPD has shown up at Ballston, it would be a field day to rob a bank today.

  • DSS10

    I guess some one really wants to avoid getting their performance appraisal today….

  • GoodOmens

    Just walked through – not really much going on. I think they had a dog or two going through and sniffing things.

    I’m guessing it wasn’t much of a credible threat.

  • Fly Over

    Given the picture you used for this story one might wonder if they were giving away free Krispy Kremes at the mall.

    Where there any ACPD that were not in attendance?

  • diego

    itll be raining phone covers soon

  • Zoning Victim

    There were dozens of people in Ballston Mall today? That is news. I wonder what caused the uptick in turnout.

    • yayasisterhood

      Panera reloads their club member cards on the 1st of each month… free small coffees for all members. BTW- you should never throw out your Panera coffee cup… Free refills- be advised, the seam will separate after the 4th or 5th cup.

  • Brownflipflops

    Is anyone else highly disturbed that Mall Security “decided not to evacuate” after this kind of threat? How is it left up to the “observe and report” rent-a-cops to decide whether the mall is evacuated due to a police matter? I mean yes, I agree that 999 out of 1000 of these things are prank calls but still there’s a chance that this could have been a real issue. Whomever made these calls made three very deliberate calls to different sources. I were at that mall, I’d want my safety to be kept in mind.

    • Josh S

      Perhaps in consultation with APD? Don’t be so quick to judge…..

    • Ballston101

      I agree 100%…We weren’t notified AT ALL…We approached ACPD for info…

      Easier to evacuate when the building is still in one piece

    • Flying Spaghetti Monster

      Perhaps the rest of us aren’t driven into a screeching panic every time some methhead phones in a crackpot bomb threat (to the wrong jurisdiction even).

      Time to go laugh at Newt yet?

      • Brownflipflops

        Everybody calm down. i’m not advocating screeching panic or anything of the sort. But something as simple as an announcment over the PA system asking people to calmly and orderly evacuate the mall because a security issue (notice we don’t have to insight a stampeed by spooking the cattle with the B-word) might have been a good idea. I’m no spring chicken when it comes to this sort of thing. I’ve worked in multiple buildings where this type of situation happens on a fairly regular basis. I’m just saying that being smart with people’s safety on the anniversary of OBL’s raid might be a good idea. There was extra security on the metro today because of that and there should be a little extra precaution here too.

        Good point though Josh S. Now that I think about it, i’m sure that Mall Security did consult APD before making that decision. I guess all i’m saying is that it is a big risk if they were wrong.

        • nom de guerre



          • Brownflipflops

            Lol. Not exactly but that’s just funny.

    • bobco85

      From what I understand, the mall gave the individual stores the option to evacuate (same goes for Ballston Tower, the office building attached to the mall, which did choose to evacuate). The mall would be liable for any injury/death to people who weren’t in any of the stores, but the individual stores would be liable for any customers and employees inside the stores.

      • BlueSkies

        not true

    • Mary-Austin

      They probably decided not to take it seriously when they realized it somehow involved Prince George’s County.

  • Wow

    Seven police cars ???

  • BlueSkies

    I work in the mall we were told NOTHING and given no option

  • don’t ask

    What I heard was that the Ballston mall management phoned it in to see how many people would care. They’re trying to decide if it’s worth it to renovate. Since not very many people seemed to care, I think they’re just gonna let it stay as is……

  • ArlingtonWay

    Well, I was at the mall, and my girlfriend tells me I’m the bomb, so it was probably me. Sorry guys. I’m embarassd.

  • nota gain

    Chick-Fil-A is the best fast food place at the Mall.

  • Steve

    The only bomb in that mall is that new Kevin James movie.


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