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Arrest made after flare incident at Eagle Ridge mall in Lake Wales

Posted at 12:03 PM, Jan 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-29 05:18:17-05

LAKE WALES, Fla. — Police have made an arrest after two flares were ignited at Eagle Ridge mall in Lake Wales last week.

RELATED: FBI says no pipe bombs found after reports of explosions at East Ridge Mall in Lake Wales

On Jan. 21, the mall was evacuated after reports of a possible pipe bomb that had detonated inside a corridor.

It was later discovered that they were not pipe bombs, but marine flares disguised with electrical tape.

Law enforcement went through surveillance video and followed up on leads before arresting Patrick Joseph Collins of Auburndale.

When detectives arrived at his house he tried to leave on a motorcycle and ran into one of the deputy's vehicles.

After crashing the motorcycle, he ran from the scene but was taken into custody.

Neighbors saw the arrest from their driveway and took cellphone video.

"He was trying to get away so they had no choice, but to knock him off the bike and everything," said neighbor Austin Lisbon.

During questioning, Collins admitted to igniting the flares, but did not provide any explanation or motive for his actions.

He said he was trying to sleep in the corridor when people began to chase him and he ignited the flares to keep them from getting him.

However witness statements and video surveillance reportedly disprove his account of what happened.

Collins said he acted alone and that within the last two weeks he was terminated from his job.

Police are still investigating if anyone else was involved.