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Man arrested in Los Angeles mall panic incident

March 18, 2019
This undated booking photo provided by the Los Angeles Police Department show Nicholas K. Oates. Police say officers at Venice Beach recognized the suspect, 25-year-old Oates on Saturday, March 16, 2019, and took him into custody. Panic occurred Friday, March 15, when a man entered a store at Westfield Century City mall, took books from shelves and began to ignite them. (Los Angeles Police Department via AP)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Los Angeles police have arrested a Missouri man they say caused a panic at a mall last week.

Police say officers at Venice Beach recognized 25-year-old Nicholas K. Oates around 8 p.m. Saturday and took him into custody.

The panic occurred Friday when a man entered a store at Westfield Century City mall, took books from shelves and began to ignite them.

Police say an employee attempted to stop the man but he pulled a handgun, causing the employee to evacuate the store.

People fled the mall, and social media was flooded with erroneous reports of an active shooter.

A car left at the mall led police to identify Oates, who was held for investigation of arson and assault with a deadly weapon.

It’s unclear if he has an attorney.