ROSEVILLE, Calif. – A high-end regional mall that is one of the main retail centers in a broad swath of Northern California was set ablaze Thursday by a 23-year-old disturbed man who had barricaded himself inside a store there, authorities said.
Police said the man, who was later arrested, holed up in a video game store at the Roseville Galleria and started a small fire that later erupted and spread to the roof, damaging an entire arm of the mall.
The 1.3 million-square-foot Galleria was evacuated by the time the fire blew up, and no injuries were reported.
The entire mall will be closed until authorities determine whether any parts of it can be reopened.
Police descended on the mall shortly after 10:30 a.m. when a man claiming to have a gun entered a GameStop store and told employees to get out.
The employees said the man then barricaded himself in a back room and started a fire. He was hiding outside the store when a SWAT team entered the mall, and he was arrested without further incident.
Authorities had thought the mall’s sprinkler system doused the blaze. But police later said the fire began spreading as members of the bomb squad were checking the man’s backpack to see if it contained explosives, forcing them to flee the building.
Roseville police later identified the man as 23-year-old Alexander Corney Pigee, but also said his last name could be spelled Piggee.
KCRA-3 in Sacramento interviewed the man’s mother, who said he had developed mental health problems in the past couple of years and recently was fired from a fast-food burger chain.
The man was booked into Placer County Jail on suspicion of arson.