Two devices found at a Florida mall originally thought to be improvised explosives were actually marine flares, authorities said on Monday.
Officials had initially said that two IEDs exploded at the Eagle Ridge Mall in Lake Wales, Florida, around 5:30 p.m. on Sunday. The mall is about 65 miles east of Tampa, NBC News reported.
Andrea Aprea, a spokeswoman for the FBI’s Tampa field office, told NBC on Monday that there was “no indication of any explosion at the mall and no pipe bombs were found.”
“It appears two items, believed to be marine flares, were ignited in a mall hallway, creating a large amount of smoke, and a backpack was located at the scene,” Aprea said, noting that bomb experts had examined the contents of the backpack and determined it was safe.
The FBI said there was no indication the event was related to terrorism, but police are still searching for a person of interest who was seen running from the building.
The flares were set off in a service corridor near a JCPenney store, and the mall was evacuated as a safety precaution at the time. K9 units searched the mall on Sunday evening and the FBI was brought in to investigate.
“It’s very concerning to us,” Lakes Wales Deputy Police Chief Troy Schulze said at a press conference on Sunday. “We’re a family-oriented community. This is a family-oriented mall. When this started, my son was actually working here.”
The mall reopened on Monday morning.
This story has been updated to note that the suspected explosives were actually marine flares.