A grieving man caused a lockdown at a Florida mall earlier this week when he spread his fiancee's ashes in a Sarasota LensCrafters.
According to police, the man entered the LensCrafters store located in the Westfield Southgate mall and spread the ashes before immediately leaving on Tuesday night. Since clerks did not know what the substance was, the police and the fire department were initially called and the mall was temporarily shut down.
However, fire department officials quickly determined the substance was not harmful.
"There are protocols that law enforcement must follow for Homeland Security and it was the response by law enforcement and emergency personnel to show that the matter was not dangerous," said Sarasota Police Chief Bernadette DiPino. "We are relieved in this case that the substance was not harmful. Hindsight is always 20/20 but in these types of situations our response was necessary and appropriate."
Police quickly apprehended the man, whom they described as apologetic.
The man's fiancee had died a few months earlier and had a connection to the LensCrafters, according to police. The man was not charged and was offered grief counseling services as a result of the event.
Requests for comment from LensCrafters employees were denied.
According to the Florida Division of Funeral, Cemetery & Consumer Services, ashes can be spread on Florida lands but not freshwater. The division also warns that spreading ashes on a private property "could be construed as establishing a cemetery."