A 25-year-old man was arrested in connection to a gun scare that forced the evacuation of Westfield Century City mall, Los Angeles police and fire officials said in a written statement Sunday.
Early Saturday morning, mall security guards found a vehicle that was believed to belong to the suspect. Police impounded the vehicle and collected evidence that identified the suspect as Nicholas K. Oates of Missouri, the statement said.
Later that night, LAPD Pacific Division officers, who were working on an unrelated case, recognized the suspect sitting at a beach near the Venice Beach Boardwalk and took him into custody without incident at around 8:00 p.m., according to the Los Angeles Police Department.
Oates was arrested on suspicion of arson and assault with a deadly weapon, LAPD said.
On Friday afternoon, the suspect entered a store at the Westfield Century City, took books from the shelves and started lighting them on fire, according to authorities.
A store employee confronted the suspect, who pulled out a handgun and pointed it at the employee, police said.
The employee evacuated everyone from the store and, out of an abundance of caution, the whole mall was evacuated, according to authorities.
The suspect then fled the area.
Los Angeles Fire Department Arson Investigators and Los Angeles Police Department Major Crimes Detectives were investigating the incident.
Oates was being held on $75,000 bail, according to public arrest records.
Police said they did not find the suspect’s handgun, a compact black semi-automatic pistol.
Anyone with information was asked to contact LAPD’s Major Crimes Division at 213-486-7260. To remain anonymous, call 800-222-8477.