It's not uncommon for people to toss their relatives' ashes in the Atlantic during a Florida sunset. Some rabid football boosters even request to have their remains be scattered in the Swamp. Others who are fans of neither metaphors nor SEC sports sometimes seek eternal rest in shopping malls.
At 11:20 a.m. on Tuesday, a Sarasota man walked into the LensCrafters at his local mall. He threw a white, powdery substance around the store and fled, causing employees and customers alike to freak out. Police evacuated the area, suspecting a hazmat situation.
As it turns out, the man was just a bereaved boyfriend granting a last wish to his deceased fiancée: spreading her ashes in the Westfield Southgate Shopping Mall. The man -- who has not yet been named by officials -- apparently told police his late partner had a strong personal connection with the LensCrafters store. No details have been released, either, about what kind of emotional ties she had with the largest optical retailer in the United States.
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The mall re-opened later that day, and police are now saying the man won't face civil charges. Ashes can be spread on any public Florida land, excepting fresh water, according to the state's Division of Funeral, Cemetery & Consumer Services. Not surprisingly, permission is required to spread remains on private property. Employees of the Sarasota Lenscrafters refused comment this morning.
"People handle grief in different ways, and this is the way that he was just choosing to honor her memory -- places that they had been and and places they liked to go," said Lt. Pat Ledwith in a video statement released yesterday afternoon.