Sarasota, FL – On Tuesday, the parking lot of Westfield Southgate Mall was filled with fire trucks and police after they received reports of a suspicious man spreading a strange powdery substance inside. The mall went on lockdown and was evacuated because, who knows, maybe this was a terrorist anthrax attack or something.
Nope. Just a guy spreading his fiancee’s ashes around, actually.
Police discovered that the man had lost his fiancee several months back, and was spreading her ashes in places that were special to the couple. The LensCrafters store particularly held some significance to the two, so he approached the entrance and tossed some of his fiancee’s cremated remains inside. This completely freaked out the employees who called the police.
He won’t be charged because good grief that’s depressing, but law enforcement officials said that the response was appropriate regardless of the man’s motives.
“Based on the information we had at the time, I think it was an appropriate response,” said Lt. Pat Ledwith, of the Bureau of Criminial Investigations.
“His fiancee passed away a number of months ago. She has a connection to Westfield and he was spreading her cremated remains around the mall,” Ledwith continued. “He did not realize the commotion he’d cause over it.”
They’re not charging him since he had no criminal intent, and the police department has even offered him grief counseling. Still, we can’t help but wonder… where can and can’t you spread someone’s ashes?
“The fact that they’re cremated and become ashes, there aren’t any statutes to say they’re a hazardous material. With it being a hazardous material, you can distribute it pretty much anywhere you want unless there’s a prohibition against it,” defense attorney Jeff Brown told My Fox Tampa Bay.
If you need to spread the ashes of a loved one in a public place, I’d probably ask whoever’s in charge if it’s okay first. Sure, they’ll probably think you’re creepy, but it’s such a unique and sad request, how can they say no?