Mall hostage drill shuts down streets near MacArthur Center Mall

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by 13News Now

WVEC.com

Posted on May 4, 2014 at 12:06 AM

Updated Sunday, May 4 at 9:14 PM

NORFOLK – A training exercise involving local and federal agencies shut down streets around MacArthur Center Mall in Downtown Norfolk early Sunday morning.

At 2:00 a.m., Norfolk police closed the streets for a hostage situation training exercise. The drill took place mostly inside the mall.

Norfolk Police Department coordinated the exercise with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Homeland Security.

"Norfolk Fire-Rescue. You've got Virginia Beach SWAT Team, Chesapeake SWAT Team, Newport News," listed Norfolk Police Department spokesman Daniel Hudson. "You've got a whole lot of different law enforcement coming to play in this exercise."

Hampton Roads Transit provided a Tide train for authorities to use in the simulated operation.

The scenario followed a potential bomber riding light rail, and then heading into the MacArthur Center Mall.  100 volunteers were part of the exercise.

"We have members of our Citizens Academy who are playing the role of injured citizens inside the mall," explained FBI spokeswoman Vanessa Torres. "Some of them have life-threatening injuries and only a short amount of time to live."

The idea was for police, fire, and EMS crews from across Hampton Roads to test their response and communication skills, then review how they handled the staged confrontation between a bomber or terrorist.

"Especially in this day and age," said City of Norfolk spokeswoman Lori Crouch. "You saw what happened in Kenya. You saw what happened at the Boston bombing, and we hope our residents in the Hampton Roads area who watch this and see what we're doing here can appreciate the hard work that goes in."

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