Ross Feingold, 37, of Atlanta went into the store in the Cumberland Festival shopping center and started a conversation with another customer there.
Cobb Police Sgt. Dana Pierce said Feingold was telling this other person about another incident or situation involving “explosives” or a “bomb.”
A third party, another male customer, overheard the conversation.
“And the next thing you know he’s running to management,” Pierce said.
That third party relayed his concerns to the AT&T store manager, who then called 911.
Within minutes, a massive police presence descended on the shopping plaza.
And Feingold was suddenly looking down the barrels of the guns of at least three police officers outside the store front.
“It is a sign of the times, of how sensitive people are to national and world events,” Pierce said.
The county police called in a bomb squad, closed the road in front of the shopping center and evacuated everyone in the area’s retail shops.
“They actually confronted him, made him put everything down, including a briefcase, which ultimately had a laptop computer in it, and he was detained,” Pierce said.
The briefcase also contained personal documents, including a letter from Feingold’s late grandfather, Feingold said in an interview with WSB-TV.
Cobb County police dogs sniffed the scene and bomb squad officers blew up the briefcase and its contents in the corner of the shopping center. The highway and stores were reopened around 5:45 p.m.
Feingold, the person who accused him and AT&T store managers were all taken in for questioning by Cobb Police. But, ultimately, there were no charges brought against the man and police released him.
“The accused makes no bones about what he said and we had no reason to believe what he said was what the other person thought he said,” Pierce said. “The fact is, he did not, as far as what we know, mention anything to the degree that it was assumed, but it did initiate a response by Cobb Police.”
Pierce could not say if the man’s belongings will be paid for or restored and could not give the details of the 911 call.
“I don’t know (who would be responsible),” Pierce said. “Is it the person who wrongly reported it or the police? And I really don’t know. Nobody I asked seemed to have that answer today.”