Auburndale man accused of igniting flares at Eagle Ridge mall, Lake Wales police say

LAKE WALES, Fla. — An Auburndale man is facing an attempted arson charge for allegedly igniting two marine flares at the Eagle Ridge Mall last weekend, Lake Wales police said.

Patrick Collins, 31, was arrested around 7:00 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.

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 JCPenney store.

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 JCPenney and an image of another man.

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.