Crossgates Mall hosts simulated attack exercise

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Updated: 4/30 9:59 pm

GUILDERLAND, N.Y. – A simulated terrorist attack was held at Crossgates Mall by the FBI partnered with Homeland Security, a local fire department, and police.

Officials say the complex exercise was meant to be as realistic as possible and has been in the making for almost a year.

FBI and the local first responders did not know the scenario, and had to work together to resolve the simulated terror incident between 4 a.m. and 10 a.m. Wednesday. 

"They’d get some facts of what occurred and they would respond and they would practice working with the FBI swat team, the New York state police so they could integrate and work well together,” said Supervisory Special Agent Paul Holstein.

The FBI said this is part of a nationwide effort that was put into motion after an attack at the Westgate mall in Nairobi, Kenya this past fall.

Officials say that incident is something that could happen anywhere at any time, which is why local first responders and different police agencies, like the Albany County Sheriff's Office and Guilderland Police were put to the test early Wednesday morning. 

"Unfortunately terrorism has been more prevalent around the world and particularly this exercise hits closer to home because everyone shops at malls. We've been doing this and something we will continue to do,” said Holstein. 

There wasn't much activity going on in the mall parking lot but the Albany County Sheriff’s Command Mobile Center was there all Wednesday morning. 

"I think our agency did very well. This is something for years now we've been looking at as a potential and concern and we've been practicing and training on these types of activities. There were certain parts that were intense and certain parts that were slowed down so we could get the details and have it be a learning experience,” said Captain John Layton with the Albany County Sheriff's Office.

About 100 first responders and police officers participated in the exercise. The FBI said the next step will be to review what went right and what the agencies can do to improve. 

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