LAKE WALES, Fla. -
Lake Wales police are searching for those responsible for igniting two marine flares Sunday evening near the entrance of the JC Penney at the Eagle Ridge Mall Sunday evening.
Firefighters responded to reports of an explosion at the mall on 451 Eagle Ridge Drive around 5:20 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.
Improvised explosive device detonated near JC Penney at Lake Wales mall https://t.co/4lXFZKQkr6— WFTV Eyewitness News (@WFTV) January 22, 2018
The FBI later determined that there was no explosion and no pipe bombs were discovered. Officials also said that the incident didn’t appear to be terrorism-related.
"It appears two items, believed to be marine flares, were ignited in a mall hallway, creating a large amount of smoke, and a backpack was located at the scene," said Andrea Aprea, an FBI spokeswoman. "Bomb technicians examined the contents of the backpack and determined it did not contain any incendiary or explosive devices."
A witness who called 911 told WFTV that she heard a fire alarm sound and saw orange smoke billowing from an object.
The mall was evacuated. No one was injured, but a ceiling and a wall were damaged by the flares, officials said.
After speaking with witnesses, police said they are looking for a person of interest described as a stocky, middle-aged white man wearing a gray shirt and a hat.
Detectives said they will review surveillance footage recorded at a jewelry store in the mall.
The investigation is ongoing.