BEVERLY HILLS—Westfield Century City Mall was closed after people were evacuated Friday, March 15 following multiple calls of a man with a gun and a suspicious package that was discovered inside an Amazon store.
The Los Angeles Police Department West L.A. Division received multiple calls of a active shooter in the mall around 12:42 p.m. Officers were sent to the scene to clear the location. An Amazon store employee was the first witness to see the suspect with a gun and alerted security.
Several shoppers were seen running from the mall seeking safety prior to authorities arriving on the scene. Westfield Century City Mall was placed on lockdown after officers arrived. According to Fox News, store employees evacuated others. “They were fantastic, they got us all out in a orderly fashion straight out the back.”
Some stores were informed to secure customers inside and were not able to leave until the lockdown was over.
Nearby Beverly Hills High School was also placed under a lockdown, as a precaution due the Beverly Hills Police Department reported. Students had to be picked up by a parent or legal guardian on site after being given the all clear notice.
The mall resumed normal business around 5:30 p.m. after authorities revealed that no shots had been fired. There were no reports of any injuries or causalities and the bomb squad determined the suspicious device as non-explosive. Video footage from AIR7 HD showed smoke coming from the Amazon Store were officers were directed to a suspicious box that was lit on fire.
Authorities posted on social media a surveillance camera photo of the suspect, described as a 20 to 25 year old Hispanic or Asian male, who weighs around 130 to 150 pounds. The hoodie and headband the suspect is wearing appears to be a replica outfit from the animated series “Naruto.” The suspect is wanted for possible arson and assault with a deadly weapon. Authorities have warned the public that the suspect should be considered armed and dangerous.
Update: The suspect has been identified as Nicholas K. Oates, 25 from Missouri and was arrested the next day charged for one count of second-degree burglary, six counts of arson and one count of assault with a firearm, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. His car was located in Venice by mall security guards who found evidence that led to his arrest by authorities. Oates was arraigned Tuesday and faces up to 21 years in prison.
Oates allegedly set books on fire in the children’s section of the Amazon Books store, and when confronted by an employee, Oates aimed a compact black semi-automatic pistol at the employee according to Los Angeles Police Department officials.