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Umbrella, not gun, caused mall evacuation

April 19, 2011 at 2:31 PM

BURLINGTON, Mass., April 19 (UPI) -- A young man innocently walking with an umbrella mistaken for a rifle triggered the evacuation of a shopping mall in Burlington, Mass., Tuesday, police said.

WHDH-TV, Boston, reported the unidentified man called state police from the Lahey Clinic in the Burlington Mall shortly after the 10 a.m. incident began to report he was the person two people had reported seeing in the shopping center with what looked like a short-barreled rifle. He said it was really just the umbrella he had in his backpack.

"A Lahey Clinic employee carrying an umbrella in his backpack was unfortunately mistaken for a gunman at the Burlington Mall this morning," the clinic said in a statement. "Upon arrival at work the employee heard the description of the alleged person carrying a rifle on the news and immediately called the Burlington police. He told them he had been at the mall and fit the description. Police responded and confirmed he was the person and his umbrella was mistaken for a gun.

"The Lahey employee is pleased he took appropriate action and contacted the police. However, he feels terrible about the situation. He asks that people in the media please respect his privacy at this time."

The Boston Herald reported state police troopers questioned the man and determined there was no threat. Police said witnesses and video surveillance confirmed he was the man in question.

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