Florida police are looking for a man who was seen running from a mall where 2 improvised explosive devices detonated Sunday.
Lakes Wales Deputy Police Chief Troy Schulze told reporters that two pipe bombs have detonated near a JCPenney at Eagle Ridge Mall in Lake Wales, around 5:30p.m.
Other Improvised Explosive Devices were found in the same corridor were the other 2 explosions occured. Schulze said they found a “backpack or book bag that contained five or six other IEDs that were not detonated. We had guys go in and do a cursory search to make sure there wasn’t anything else suspicious or out of place”. He added that those devices were “safely removed.”
Police said there were no reports of injuries, but there was damage to a drop ceiling. Shoppers were seen frantically running from the mall which was completely evacuated for security and investidation reasons.
Police described the devices as flare-like objects in PVC pipe, wrapped in electrical tape. Had anyone been near when they went off, he or she would likely have been injured, Schulze said.
“It’s very concerning to us. We’re a family-oriented community. This is a family-oriented mall. When this started, my son was actually working here at this mall. …People here shopping, just enjoying a Sunday afternoon or evening with their families, and literally ‘boom’” Schulze said.
Witnesses told investigators that they saw a stocky, middle-age white man wearing a gray shirt and a gray hat running from the scene. Schulze said that it wasn’t known whether the man was involved but that investigators considered him a person of interest and were hoping to question him.
“We’re definitely not calling it terrorism at this time, but it’s up to the FBI, which has been notified,” he said.
The FBI is conducting an investigation and not commenting on the incident. It is referring all questions to Lake Wells police.