Man dressed as elf causes mall evacuation

December 7th, 2009 by – Southlake Mall was evacuated Wednesday night after a man dressed as an elf allegedly told the mall Santa that he was carrying dynamite.

But when the GBI bomb squad examined three packages left near Santa, the incident was declared a ho-ho-hoax.

The bad elf, William C. Caldwell III, was being held without bond Thursday in the Clayton County Jail, charged with having hoax devices, making terroristic threats, false imprisonment, simple assault, reckless conduct, disorderly conduct and false public alarm.

The incident began about 6:45 p.m. when Caldwell, 45, got in line at Southlake Mall to have his picture made with Santa.

When Caldwell, who was wearing an elf suit, reached the front of the line, ” he told Santa Claus that he had dynamite in his bag,” Morrow police Capt. James Callaway said. “He said that two times to Santa Claus.”

Santa notified mall security and Morrow police quickly arrested the 5 feet tall, 108 pound Caldwell. The mall was evacuated and the bomb squad was called in to examine the packages.

No dynamite was found, but the mall remained closed the remainder of the evening. Police have not said what was in the bags.

Callaway said that despite Caldwell’s attire, he was not a part of the mall’s Santa operation.

“He has no relationship with Southlake Mall whatsoever,” Callaway said.

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