Missouri man pleads no contest to setting fire at Century City mall, assaulting bookstore employee with firearm

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From left: Nicholas K. Oates, 25, is seen in a driver's license photo released by Los Angeles police, and a still from store surveillance shows the suspect who caused a gun scare at the Westfield Century City mall.
Nicholas K. Oates is seen in a driver’s license photo released by Los Angeles police, and a still from store surveillance shows the suspect who caused a gun scare at a Century City mall

A 27-year-old man from Missouri pleaded no contest Thursday to setting a fire inside the Westfield Century City Mall last year, prompting the evacuation of the entire shopping center, officials said.

Nicholas Kyle Oates entered the plea to one count each of arson and assault with a firearm and admitted an allegation of personally using a firearm, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

Oates was immediately sentenced to seven years and four months in state prison, the DA’s office said.

On March 15, 2019, Oates entered the Amazon Books store inside the shopping center, walked to the children’s section and set books on fire.

An employee confronted Oates, who then pulled out a handgun on the employee. The weapon was a compact black semi-automatic pistol, the Los Angeles Police Department said at the time.

Oates then lit additional items on fire in the store and fled the scene, officials said.

Mall patrons were evacuated during the incident as a precaution, while investigators searched the shopping center. It was reopened later that day.

Oates was found and arrested the next day in Venice.

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