They found smoke coming out of a service corridor next to the mall entrance of JCPenney and found two IEDs there.
Authorities pulled a backpack from the scene in the corridor with what police believe included "other possible improvised explosive devices in it". No injuries were reported as a result of the explosion but the parts of the building were damaged.
A suspect was still being sought, she said, but the Federal Bureau of Investigation has no reason to think the incident was an act of terrorism.
Lake Wales fire crews responded to an alarm call at 451 Eagle Ridge Drive around 5:30 p.m. Sunday.
The devices appeared to resemble pipe bombs; they were made of PVC piping that was wrapped in electrical tape. "When this started, my son was actually working here".
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Lake Wales Police and the Sheriff have set up a perimeter and are still searching for the suspect.
"We're a family-oriented community, this is a family-oriented mall". Just enjoying a Sunday afternoon or Sunday evening with their family and literally, Boom.
Police are also inspecting another suspicious device that was left near the mall's movie theater.
Based on information provided by witnesses, authorities are seeking a person of interest described as a middle-aged white male with a heavy/stocky build, wearing a gray shirt and gray hat. 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.