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2 ‘flares’ set off inside Florida mall, police searching for suspect

The JCPenny at the Eagle Ridge Mall in Lake Wales, Florida. (Twitter)
January 22, 2018

Two marine flares, which were originally reported as improvised explosive devices (IEDs) by local police, went off inside a Florida shopping mall Sunday night.

The FBI has since clarified original reports from the local police, who said there were “pipe bombs’ that exploded. No one was injured, but law enforcement officials are still searching for the person of interest, who fled the scene.

The suspect was described by witnesses as a “stocky, middle-age white man wearing a gray shirt and a gray hat running from the scene,” NBC reported.

Law enforcement pointed out that this is not being labeled as a terrorist attack yet. The FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) have been informed.

Two IEDs detonated at a Florida mall. (Twitter)

It was originally said there were two pipe bombs that reportedly went off in a service corridor near JCPenny about 30 minutes before the Eagle Ridge Mall in Lake Wales was scheduled to close. Eagle Ridge is about 30 miles east of Tampa.

About 100 people were evacuated from inside the mall. A drop ceiling was the only thing damaged, law enforcement said.