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IEDs explode in Florida mall, police say

Highlights of the story

  • No one was injured when two devices detonated at the Florida Mall
  • Police are looking for a person of interest

At 5:22 p.m. On Sunday, officers responded to a smoke alarm call at the Eagle Ridge Mall in Lake Wales, central Florida. They found smoke coming out of a service aisle next to the entrance to the JCPenney mall and found two IEDs there.

The devices appeared to be a type of flare, inside a PVC pipe and then wrapped in electrical tape, said Lake Wales Police Sub-Chief Troy Schulze. Both devices were in the same corridor, about 10 meters from each other.

"There is nothing at this time to indicate that this act was terrorism," he said. "At this moment, we are reviewing the video surveillance cameras."

When asked why this incident was not characterized as terror, Schulze said: "We do not know what the person was trying to achieve."

According to eyewitness descriptions, police say they are looking for a middle-aged white man with a heavy construction wearing a gray shirt and a hat, as a person of interest.

A little over 100 people were in the mall when the devices detonated and evacuated safely.

"It's very worrying when you think about it," Schulze told CNN affiliate WFLA, who mentioned that her son was working at that mall. "People are here shopping, enjoying a Sunday afternoon with their family and, literally, boom.

The FBI and the ATF have been notified, he said.

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