Explosive device detonated at Lake Wales mall

23 January 2018, 01:38 | Santos Harmon

ExpressAnother potential explosive device was found by authorities in a backpack in the same location

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Around 5:30 p.m. Sunday, someone noticed smoke coming from an entrance to the JCPenney store at the Eagle Ridge Mall in Lake Wales, Florida, near Lakeland and east of the Tampa Bay Area.

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.

Schulze said no shoppers or employees were near the IEDs when they went off, but a drop ceiling was damaged.

According to witness reports, a middle-aged white male with a heavy/stocky build was seen.

The mall is now being evacuated.

PC Schulze said that it wasn't known whether the man was involved but that investigators considered him a person of interest. He said the Federal Bureau of Investigation had been notified but that it was too early to consider whether the incident could be terrorism.

The police force and many emergency services from the countries at neighborhood including Office Bomb Squad of Hillsborough Sheriff rushed to the incident.

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

There is no current indication of any terrorist connection to the incident, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

About 100 people were evacuated from inside the 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 FBI later determined that there was no explosion and no pipe bombs were discovered.

The mall is scheduled to reopen on Monday morning.



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