IEDs Explode at Florida Mall, Police Say


The Lake Wales Fire Department responded to an alarm call at Eagle Ridge Mall at 451 Eagle Ridge Dr.

Crews were called to the scene after fire alarms went off in the mall just before 5:30 p.m.

Firefighters initially said that an improvised explosive device had been detonated in a corridor located next to the mall entrance of JC Penney.

Lake Wales Police Deputy Chief Troy Schulze said the devices appeared to be a type of flare, placed inside a PVC pipe and then wrapped in electrical tape.

According to witnesses, police described him as middle-aged, "heavy/stocky build wearing a grey shirt and grey hat". No injuries were reported in the explosions, which occurred about half an hour before the mall was scheduled to close.

Schulze said they also found a book bag containing what they believed to be other devices inside. They detected the smoke emerging from a service corridor, and found two exploded pipe bombs and a backpack nearby.

NBC News reports that the FBI is in the earliest stages of an investigation and has yet to declare whether this was a terror-related incident.

The mall has been evacuated and the department has launched a criminal investigation.

"We're a family-oriented community, this is a family-oriented mall".

"We are going to work hard, hand in hand to develop a suspect, find the suspect and put the suspect where he needs to be, and that's in jail", Schulze said.

The mall was slated to reopen at 10 a.m. Monday.