LAGUNA NIGUEL – Shoppers fled a Smart & Final when a homeless man hijacked the public-address system to make an ominous announcement, authorities said on Friday.
“He said there was a bomb threat and requested that customers exit from the front of the store,” sheriff’s Lt. Wayne Rehnelt said.
After the threat, made at just after 10:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 4, worried shoppers gathered outside the store in the 3000 block Crown Valley Parkway.
In the confusion, the suspect grabbed alcohol and fled on foot.
Deputies searched the store but no explosives were found. They also reviewed the store’s surveillance video and identified the suspect as a known transient, Rehnelt said.
“I’ve been doing this a long time, and haven’t heard of that particular (ruse),” said Rehnelt, who has been in law enforcement for about 30 years.
As of Friday morning, the suspect remained at large.