Police tape
Police confirmed a school shooting in Italy, Texas, Monday morning. Reuters/Joshua Lott

Shoppers at Florida’s Eagle Ridge Mall in Lake Wales were evacuated Sunday after an improvised explosive device (IED) blew up near the mall’s entrance. The incident took place around 5:30 p.m. EST.

According to a report, the Lake Wales Fire Department responded to an emergency situation at the mall after shoppers raised an alarm about smoke rising from a corridor located next to the mall’s entrance near JCPenney store.

Emergency services and police personnel from the neighboring counties including Hillsborough Sheriff's Office Bomb Squad responded to the incident.

Upon reaching the spot, the fire crews learned that an IED had been detonated in the corridor. As the fire crews carried out further investigation, they came across a backpack in the same corridor with suspected IED in it.

Lake Wales Police Department Deputy Chief Troy Schulze said the authorities found “backpack or book bag that contained five or six other IEDs that were not detonated.”

“We had guys go in and do a cursory search to make sure there wasn't anything else suspicious or out of place,” he further said.

There were an estimated 100 people in the mall at the time of the incident.

Even as the police was investigating the explosion, another suspicious package was recovered near the movie theatre. The police is yet to announce if the package contains any explosive. The investigation is still ongoing and the authorities are yet to determine whether this incident was linked to terrorism.

Although there were no reports of casualties, the mall suffered heavy damage.

Speaking of the incident, Schulze said it is very “concerning.”

“Something that will impact our whole community,” he added.

According to reports, police are on the lookout for a middle-aged man with a heavy build in connection with the incident. Police said that the suspect was wearing a grey shirt and a grey hat at the time of the incident.

Those who have any information regarding the incident or the suspect were requested to contact Lake Wales Police Detective Whitney Dukes at (863)678-4223 or Heartland Crime Stoppers at (800) 226-8477.