Two improvised explosive devices go off at Florida mall

Posted at 11:47 AM, Jan 22, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-22 11:47:45-05

LAKE WALES, Fla. (WFTS) — Two improvised explosive devices (IEDs) went off at Eagle Ridge Mall on Sunday night.

Lake Wales fire crews responded to an alarm call at 451 Eagle Ridge Drive around 5:30 p.m. While en route, the call was changed to a structure fire.

When fire crews arrived at the location, they saw smoke coming from a corridor located next to the mall entrance of JC Penney.

The fire department located two pipe bomb type devices that ignited in the corridor of the building. They also located a backpack in the same corridor with other possible improvised explosive devices in it.

No one was injured as a result of the explosion, but the ceiling and corridor wall did sustain damage.

At 5:30 p.m. the Lake Wales Police Department responded to begin a criminal investigation.

The mall was evacuated. The Polk County Sheriff’s Office, the State Fire Marshall, and the Hillsborough Sheriff’s Office Bomb Squad all responded to assist in the investigation.

Police are looking for a person of interest that is described as a middle-aged white male, heavy build, wearing a gray shirt and gray hat.

“I’m grateful for Florida’s first responders and law enforcement who are working to keep everyone safe in Lake Wales tonight,” Florida Governor Rick Scott said on Twitter late Sunday night following the incident.

Anyone with information on this incident is urged to contact Lake Wales Police Detective Whitney Dukes at (863)678-4223 or Heartland Crime Stoppers at (800) 226-8477.