Last week’s bomb scare at Orchard Park Mall has many Castanet readers wondering if the police reaction was overkill.
Our stories and forums have been lighting up with comments strongly divided on the matter. Some say evacuating the mall and calling in the bomb squad was over the top. Others say better safe than sorry.
Meanwhile, Kelowna RCMP have confirmed the suspicious package was a nylon lunch bag that contained an incendiary device designed to catch fire. It did not contain explosives.
“It caught on fire. As it was described to me, it was of some sophistication and it was meant to do that. So whoever set it there, I don’t know why they did it, but they had intentions,” explained Cpl. Joe Duncan.
“An employee was walking by and, all of a sudden, out of the corner of his eye, he sees this thing on fire. There just happened to be an extinguisher right there, and he put it out.
“I think it was described as a flash, and the next thing you know, it's on fire.”
Readers in the overkill camp point to similar incidents, which all turned out to be non-events, at the Kelowna armoury, another in Kamloops and a third in the Lower Mainland. Detractors say they amount to wasted time and resources.
But Duncan doesn’t see it that way. He encourages people to continue contacting police if they are unsure of something.
"I just think people are more in tune with what is going on in their surroundings and they’re not taking any chances, which is a good thing," he says. "Even though we say this is Kelowna, a small town, it can happen anywhere.
"Obviously, police are going to do their due diligence."
Police say the suspect in the Orchard Park incident remains at large.
Here is a sample of some of the comments we've received since publishing the story:
- “Better safe then sorry, don't you think?! Either way, there will always be someone unhappy! Imagine if they ignored it or never went to the extent of phoning and something did happen. Imagine the outrage Kelowna would be in – and all the innocent people who could have been hurt!” – ladyluck
- “If it was a bomb, it would have went off five minutes after the dude left it there. Let's get real here, it's Kelowna, not New York City. Such a waste of time and money just like the last one and just like the package left in front of the armory last year. Just hire Paul Blart "Mall Cop", and this would have been over in two minutes.... If it is suspicious, how about mall security open it up to verify exactly what it is? Nobody makes a bomb that only goes off if you open up the box. This isn't like the movies, folks.” – govtwatchdog
- "I am looking for a part-time job. I volunteer to be the bomb squad for all suspicious packages found in Kelowna. Really, people, it is Kelowna. Why would a terrorist pick on Kelowna? Would a terrorist even know Kelowna existed? Walk over, pick the thing up and throw it in the garbage, where it belongs. Maybe in Vancouver, but I doubt it. Maybe in Ottawa, unlikely. Maybe in Toronto. Not going to happen. Montreal? Why bother. But in Kelowna? Reality check, people... it is Kelowna. A small town in the middle of nowhere B.C. You are not a target." – butcher99
- "Most posters here are being quick to blame authorities for being overly cautious, but if something actually had happened and they hadn't reacted, then you'd be blaming them for being careless. The way people are so quick to disrespect the police, I'm really glad my son changed his mind about becoming a police officer. It's a tough job, and I'd hate to think what kind of world we'd have without law and order. The system may not be perfect, but as long as humans are running it, it never will be, so instead of always being so negative perhaps we should try being supportive for a change. I've seen more respect for gangs than police over the years, just sad." – BL
- "Because every terrorist you've ever heard of wants to blow up Sears. If only the RCMP knew how to spell 'overreaction.'" – Buzzard
- "I think its justified to err on the side of caution!" – Deean
- "I agree this term 'Suspicious Package' gets thrown around all too often, to the point where everyone freaks out because a box was left behind or forgotten about. Too many people live in fear of nothing and overreact when they see something misplaced." – nedroj