Investigators say a 64-year-old man intentionally slammed his car into the side of the Countryside Mall on Wednesday morning, sparking a fire inside a Dillard's.
It happened around 2 a.m., and officials say the car went through the storage unit of the department store, sending smoke and flames into the building.
The fire sprinklers set off inside the store, but the damage was contained to only the Dillard's.
"The biggest thing was getting smoke out of the building, so it took firefighters a few hours," spokeswoman Joelle Castelli said.
Officials have identified the driver as Ellis Henry Vaughn. Officials at the scene say he told them he hit the building with his car at a high rate of speed because he was trying to end his life.
Fire and rescue crews say Vaughn told them he left his home unlocked with a suicide note for his family.
He suffered serious injuries in the crash and fire, but he is expected to survive. Vaughn is currently at Tampa General Hospital.
The Dillard's will be closed for the day, but we're hearing the mall will likely open at 10 a.m.
Stay with us for updates.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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