Police are searching for a man seen running from the Eagle Ridge Mall where two devices originally thought to be pipe bombs went off on Sunday.
The Lake Wales Fire Department responded to a call about a fire at Eagle Ridge Mall around 5:30 p.m.
The FBI said in a statement there is no indication of terrorism, and there were no explosives or pipe bombs found despite earlier reports.
Two devices which appear to be marine flares, detonated outside of JC Penney, sending a large amount of smoke into the mall and caused damage to the roof.
(Lake Wales police Deputy Chief Troy Schulze tells news outlets that at 5:22 p.m., the Lake Wales Fire Department received an alarm call at the Eagle Ridge Mall. While en route to that call, their alarm for smoke was turned into a structure fire call. Courtesy of Fox 4 Now and YouTube. Posted on Jan 22, 2018)
A backpack, also found at the scene, did not contain any explosives according to the FBI.
(The FBI says they are working with the Lake Wales Police Department and the Polk County Sheriff’s Office to investigate reports of explosions at a Lake Wales mall on Sunday night. Courtesy of ABC Action News and YouTube. Posted on Jan 22, 2018)
No one was hurt, and the mall was evacuated following the incident.
Lake Wales Deputy Chief Troy Schulze estimated that approximately 100 people were inside the mall at the time.
The area where the devices went off is generally only used by mall employees and set away from customer traffic.
Schulze would not speculate on a motive or who might have planted the devices.
“We’re a family-oriented community, this is a family-oriented mall. While this was going on my son was actually working up here at the mall,” Schulze said during a press conference Sunday night.
“It’s very concerning when you think about it, people here shopping, just enjoying a Sunday afternoon or evening with their family and literally ‘boom.'”