Most of Sunday at the Eagle Ride Mall in Florida passed as a normal day, with nothing out of the ordinary, and the usual Sunday shopping crowd slightly swelled as people with Christmas gift cards and cash to spend came in looking for various items. However, 30 minutes before the mall was set to close, two explosions rocked the mall, caused by improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
According to reports, the two devices went off in a service corridor in the mall, near to the JC Penney store. Luckily, no one was nearby when they detonated, so no one was injured or killed in the blast, but that is only due to sheer luck and the attacker’s choice in placing the devices where they wouldn’t be discovered. A third suspicious device was found near a movie theater, but according to experts on the scene, it represented no threat.
Lake Wales Deputy Police Chief Troy Schulze told reporters that the explosive devices appeared to be flare-like in their shape, covered by PVC pipe, and wrapped in electrical tape. He further speculated that had there been someone near enough to them to actually see the devices, there likely would have been an injury at the very least. As it stands, the only serious damage the bomber managed to do to the mall was harming a single ceiling tile.
Still, Schulze said that “it’s very concerning to us,” continuing on to say that “we’re a family-oriented community. This is a family-oriented mall. When this started, my son was actually working here at this mall.” He went on to comment that he’s worried that “people here shopping, just enjoying a Sunday afternoon or evening with their families, and literally ‘boom,’” an improvised explosive device cuts through the peace and could cause injury.
Witnesses to the explosion told investigators that the may have been a ‘stocky,’ white male, middle-aged, wearing a gray shirt and a gray hat. He was reported to be seen running from the scene, and it is not known if he was the bomber or just a bystander who ran from an explosion (a natural response to such an event). Law enforcement officers have stated that the individual is a person of interest that they would like to speak with to further their investigation.
Currently, neither the Lake Wales Police nor the Federal Bureau of Investigations, who are now involved in the investigation, have anything to go on. Lake Wales, about a half an hour’s drive from Tampa Bay, Florida, is a small community of fewer than 20,000 people, and this is not the kind of crime that they normally experience, nor that they expect to experience.
Police and the FBI have not said that they believe it is terrorism-related yet, though they have also not ruled out that possibility. At this point, law enforcement officials simply say that they do not have enough evidence to make an accurate statement either way.
However, explosives have, of late, been much more commonly used by Islamofascist terrorists than any other group in the United States. It was only a month ago that a would-be terrorist in New York City attempted to kill civilians in the NYC metro system with a poorly-constructed suicide vest. Thankfully, the suicide vest failed to detonate properly, and only injured the wearer and a few people near him.
Indeed, Islamic terrorists around the world often turn to explosives to attack people with whom they disagree. Sweden’s ‘immigrant’ neighborhoods are filled with explosives attacks, Egypt recently had a series of such attacks against Catholic churches, and much of the Middle East experiences explosive attacks on an almost daily basis.
One thing to be thankful for in this instance is the incompetence of the bomber, whoever they may be. In fact, it has often been the incompetence of would-be bombers that has saved American citizens.
Both the underwear bomber and the shoe bomber attempted to ignite explosive articles of clothing while on aircraft. However, in both cases, the explosives failed to detonate, due to sweat dampening the charges. In other instances, explosives were discovered before they could be detonated, and in some cases (such as in the NYC metro system last month), the bombs were simply not constructed properly in the first case.
Americans have been very lucky in that we have not been seriously bombed by foreign terrorists in quite some time. However, we should not continue to count on luck and the failings of our would-be assailants for our safety; that’s a bad strategy for anyone.