Mall reopens after bomb threat
FARMINGTON – Animas Valley Mall reopened at approximately 2:20 p.m. today after it had been evacuated this morning due to a bomb threat.
Police officers were dispatched to the scene at about 10:30 a.m. today after the threat was found on a wall in a women's bathroom and reported by a mall employee. Farmington Police Department Cpl. Jared Stock said the graffiti warned that a bomb would go off in the mall and listed multiple times.
This is the fifth bomb threat in the area this week. Similar threats were found on bathroom walls in Tibbetts Middle School, Aztec High School, Farmington High School and Piedra Vista High School earlier this week.
Teresa Ellsbury, who owns the Bola Tys & Butterflys shop at the mall, said this time of year is one of the busy shopping seasons, and several customers were in her store when they received the order to evacuate.
She said that while the customers grumbled about having to leave, they exited the mall without making a fuss.
The threat made some merchants angry and frustrated, she said.
"We're finally getting customers in the stores," Ellsbury said. "We're finally making money."
She was able to reopen her store at approximately 2:20 p.m., but customers didn't immediately return.
"I am a little frustrated," she said. "I'm a small business and trying to make ends meet."
While the scare left her frustrated, she said she understood why the mall was evacuated.
"It's just one of those things," she said. "You roll with the punches."
The number of bomb threats has prompted San Juan County Crime Stoppers to offer a $500 reward for any information leading to an arrest in connection to the bomb threats, according to a press release from Farmington Police Department. Tips can be submitted by calling 505-334-8477 or online at sjccrimestoppers.org or through the Farmington Police Department's mobile app.
In the press release, Farmington Police Chief Steve Hebbe said the community needs to unite to solve the problem of frequent bomb threats.
"Threats such as these occupy valuable law enforcement time, preventing them from responding to other calls for service. This affects businesses, students, parents and the community as a whole," he said in the release.
A phone call from The Daily Times to mall management seeking comment was not immediately returned today. A supervisor at J.C. Penney declined to comment when reached by phone after the mall reopened.
Hannah Grover coves Aztec and Bloomfield, as well as general news, for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652.