**UPDATE: Objects police mistook for IEDs were actually marine flares; investigators trying to determine motive in incident but don’t suspect terrorism.**
FLORIDA — Officials says an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) exploded at a Lake Wales, Florida shopping mall Sunday night.
The bomb was detonated at the entrance of a JC Penny at the Eagle Ridge Mall.
At 5:22pm the Lake Wales Fire Department responded to the mall, located at 451 Eagle Ridge Drive in Lake Wales, in reference to an alarm call. While enroute the call was changed to a structure fire. Once on scene the fire department located smoke coming from a corridor located next to the mall entrance of JC Penney.
The fire department discovered an improvised explosive device had been detonated in corridor. They also located a backpack in the same corridor with other possible improvised explosive devices in it. There were no injuries as a result of the explosion but there was damage to a drop ceiling and possibly to the corridor wall.
At 5:30pm the Lake Wales Police Department responded to begin a criminal investigation.
The mall was been evacuated. On scene assisting with the investigation is the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, the State Fire Marshall, and the Hillsborough Sheriff’s Office Bomb Squad. The FBI was also responding.
Based on information provided by witnesses they are looking for a person of interest who is described as a middle-aged white male, heavy/stocky build, wearing a grey shirt and a grey hat.
BREAKING: An IED was detonated at a Lake Wales, Florida Mall tonight, Mall has been evacuated. Multiple agencies looking for middle-aged white male, heavy build, wearing a grey shirt and grey hat (person of interest). More devices located in backpack nearby, no injuries – WWSB
— Breaking911 (@Breaking911) January 22, 2018
Eagle Ridge Mall in Lake Wales — the fire department discovered an improvised explosive device had been detonated in a corridor next to the outside entrance to JCPenney pic.twitter.com/wvjl7huB3j
— Gabrielle Shirley (@WFLAGabrielle) January 22, 2018
Police departments around the country, including the NYPD, advised their officers to be on alert.
[Eagle Ridge Mall is a regional, enclosed shopping mall located on the north side of Lake Wales, Florida.]