Florida

Mall evacuated after explosion at Florida mall. Several explosives found, reports say

A central Florida mall was evacuated after an explosion led to police discovering make-shift explosive devices and a backpack near a store entrance, according to various news reports.

According to ABC 7, police and fire rescue were called after a fire was reported at the Eagle Ridge Mall in Lake Wales.

When fire officials arrived at around 5:22 p.m., smoke was spotted near the entrance of JCPenney — an explosion had occurred, the station reported.

WFTV 9 reported there were no injuries but that the Lake Wales Police Department has launched a criminal investigation, alongside the Polk County Sheriff's Office, the State Fire Marshall, and the Hillsborough Sheriff's Office Bomb Squad.

Officials have released information on a person of interest: a heavy-set, middle-aged white male wearing a gray shirt and a gray hat, according to WESH 2.

Monique O. Madan: 305-376-2108, @MoniqueOMadan

Carli Teproff: 305-376-3587, @CTeproff

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