An explosive device was detonated near a JC Penney store at the Eagle Ridge Mall in Lake Wales, according to authorities.

  • Explosive device detonated at Lake Wales mall
  • Investigators found backpack with other explosive devices
  • No injuries were reported

The Lake Wales Fire Department was called to the mall just before 5:30 p.m. after an alarm was set off. The mall was evacuated.  

When firefighters arrived, they found smoke coming from a corridor next to the mall entrance of the department store. An explosive device had been detonated in the corridor, firefighters said.

A backpack containing other possible explosive devices was found in the same corridor.

There was damage to the ceiling and possibly to the corridor wall, investigators said.

No injuries were reported as a result of the explosion.

At 5:30 p.m., the Lake Wales Police Department responded the scene and began a criminal investigation.  

Investigators are searching for a person of interest described as a white middle-age man, with a stocky build.

He was last seen wearing a gray-colored shirt and hat.

The Polk County Sheriff's Office, the State Fire Marshal’s Office and the Hillsborough Sheriff’s Office Bomb Squad are assisting with the investigation.

Anyone with information that could help investigators is asked to call Heartland Crime Stoppers at 800-226-8477.