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Posted: January 27, 2018

Police: Florida man arrested, accused of igniting flares at mall

Patrick Collins
Lake Wales Police Department
Patrick Collins




A Florida man is facing an attempted arson charge for allegedly igniting two marine flares at the Eagle Ridge Mall last weekend, police said.

Patrick Collins, 31, of Auburndale was arrested around 7 p.m. Friday after a lab test showed his DNA matched DNA found on the flares and a pair of gloves left at the mall, according to the arrest report.

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When detectives asked Collins why he did it, he said he was trying to sleep in the mall and people kept waking him up, which police described as nonsensical. 

The incident happened around 5:20 p.m. Sunday at the entrance of the J.C. Penney store, WFTV reported.

Firefighters initially said that an improvised explosive device had been detonated in a corridor next to the store entrance.

The FBI later determined that there was no explosion and no pipe bombs were discovered. It also said that the incident doesn't appear to be terrorism-related.

Police released surveillance video of a man walking through J.C. Penney and an image of another man.

Police told WFTV the composite image is of a second person of interest.

The mall was evacuated. No one was injured, but a ceiling and a wall were damaged by the flares, officials said.

Detectives said they will review surveillance footage recorded at a jewelry store in the mall.

The incident remains under investigation.

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