Florida Man Scatters Fiancée's Ashes at LensCrafters, Causing Hazmat Freakout

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.

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.

Follow Miami New Times on Facebook and Twitter @MiamiNewTimes.

KEEP MIAMI NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Allie Conti was a fellow at Miami New Times and a staff writer for New Times Broward-Palm Beach, where her writing won awards from the Florida Press Club and the Society of Professional Journalists. She's now the senior staff writer at Vice and a contributor to the New York Times, New York Magazine, and the Atlantic.