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Fireworks used as distraction from jewelry store theft at Florida Mall

11 people injured during attempt to evacuate area

ORLANDO, Fla. – The Orange County Sheriff’s Office released new photos Monday night of the men accused of causing chaos at the Florida Mall.

The photos, shown below and on the Sheriff's Office Twitter page, were taken from surveillance footage.

This is the closest look yet at the men who are now being sought by authorities.

What was first believed to have been gunshots at the Florida Mall on Sunday evening was determined to have been fireworks set off by two men during an elaborate robbery scheme, officials said.

The Sheriff's Office said 11 people were injured in the 5:45 p.m. incident as they ran away. Five of them were taken to area hospitals.

Deputies said Monday it appears the fireworks were used as a distraction during a robbery at Mayor's Jewelry store. Authorities released video surveillance showing the flash from the fireworks, shoppers fleeing and one of the suspects running away.

Investigators said one man set off the fireworks while the other stole a Rolex watch worth $16,000 from the jewelry store, deputies said.

 A store clerk was cut on her hand during the robbery and is expected to recover.

"The clerk still had possession of the watch while he snatched it and ran," Orange County Sheriff's Office spokesman Jeff Williamson said.

Williamson said the two people involved are Hispanic men in their 20s.

Shoppers captured the aftermath on cellphone video that shows people in fear, running in all directions. Many customers thought the loud noise was gunshots.

"Just like 'pop pop,'" said Iva Rodriquez, who works at a kiosk inside the Florida Mall. "I remember a lady -- just pure fear in her eyes -- crying, calling her son because her son was in a different part of the mall."

Investigators said they hope to track down the men responsible. They're also searching for a possible getaway car.

"They fled out of the store into the parking lot area and they basically ran out of sight," Williamson said.

Deputies said they're reviewing multiple angles of surveillance video and working to see if the men are the same two men who perpetrated a similar recent crime at a mall in South Florida.

"I just saw everyone running. They were saying, 'Shoot out, shoot out,' so I just ran," said shopper Jorge Cruz. "[We heard] 'Pah, pah, pah, pah,' and we just ran."

An employee at the mall gave News 6 surveillance video from inside her store, showing customers running to safety.

Shopper Paul Kelley said he was inside the Foot Locker store when the incident happened.

"It was coming right from the center [of the mall] by a kiosk, and everybody was running -- little kids, people dropping everything they had," Kelley said. "All the shops just immediately shut the doors and the gates and that was it. Everyone’s a little on edge right now, so it was scary."

The Florida Mall was open for business Monday.

If you can help make an arrest in this case, call CRIMELINE at 800-423-TIPS.

Stay with News 6 and ClickOrlando.com for updates on this story.


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