Lake Wales, FL – Officials said that the items they thought were improvised explosive devices (IED) in a central Florida mall on Sunday turned out not to be bombs.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Eagle Ridge Mall both released statements on Monday that said two signal flares had triggered a fire alarm in mall hallway around 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, FOX News reported.
The fire alarm, and initial reports of multiple pipe bombs, triggered a panic.
But the Lake Wales Police Department (LWPD) has announced that the two incendiary devices were not IEDs or pipe bombs, but rather marine signal flares disguised with electrical tape, WFTS reported.
Police believed the damage to the ceiling of the corridor was caused by the suspects, not an explosion. They released surveillance video of a man believed to have been involved in the incident.
Police also released descriptions of two “persons of interest,” and asked for the public’s help in identifying them.
The first is a white, heavyset/stocky build, middle-aged male wearing a grey shirt and grey hat. The second person of interest is also white male, between 20 and 40 years of age, wearing a dark colored hat with a jacket, and light colored shirt.
Police found a backpack at the scene in the mall but said it didn’t contain any explosives, WFTS reported.
The FBI said there was no indication of any terrorist connection to the incident, and the mall reopened for business on Monday.
“We are extremely grateful to the first responders and security personnel who acted so quickly to ensure the safety of our guests, tenants and employees,” Eagle Ridge Mall said in a statement. “A law enforcement investigation is currently underway to determine the cause of the incident, and Eagle Ridge Mall will assist investigators in any way possible.”
“Initial reports of pipe bombs, IEDs, explosions or detonations of any kind at Eagle Ridge Mall were incorrect, as were reports that any additional dangerous materials were found during a thorough law enforcement search of mall property,” the statement read.
Authorities have said they have no motive for the incident.