"Mysterious Substance" Causes Panic At Biloxi Video Store - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

02/27/03

"Mysterious Substance" Causes Panic At Biloxi Video Store

The scene outside the Blockbuster store on Beauvoir Road in Biloxi today looked like something out of one of the movies for rent inside. Dozens of emergency workers, police and a bomb squad surrounded the store after a "mysterious substance" began coming from the video drop box. The yellow powder or dust was reported around 11am.

When police arrived, no one was sure what it was or if the substance was dangerous. John Roark and Bruce Lynch were laying carpet inside the store when a yellow power or dust began coming out of the video drop box. Roark says the store manager told everyone to leave.

"We walked through, and you could still see the dust. It was still in the air, so when we got out, the police finally showed up and they wouldn't let us out of the parking lot or anything like that," Lynch said.

The Biloxi bomb squad sent in a robot with mounted cameras to scope out the store and check out the drop box. Firemen in Hazmat gear ended the investigation after discovering the material came from faulty fire extinguisher.

"Inside the return box, there's an extinguisher keg in case there's any fires in the box. Somehow it discharged. We don't know if it was a malfunction, or a tape hit it, but it caused the powder to go off. Everybody saw the powder behind the counter, so everyone thought the worst," Biloxi Assistant Fire Chief Roy Beddingfield said.

Blockbuster manager Rhonda Cook said two of her assistant managers were quarantined until authorities determined the substance was not harmful. Biloxi police closed Beauvoir Road about 11:15am and didn't reopen it until about 1:45pm

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