Shoppers at the Westfield Roseville Galleria in California were in for quite a surprise Thursday after a man set fire to a mall store. The suspect locked himself inside a GameStop Thursday morning as the mall burned. Emergency responders arrived and called for evacuation of the mall eight minutes after the fire began. It is unclear how the fire was started. It appears that, fortunately, there were no injuries or casualties from the event.
Firefighters had to initially hold off on entering the building because they were concerned about the suspect being armed. There were reports of gunfire inside the building and the man said he had a gun. However, no one actually reported seeing the weapon, according to police. The SWAT Team was called in shortly after noon and officers were seen escorting a man in handcuff wearing a black hoodie out of the mall, KTVU.com reports.
There is no estimate yet as to the scope of the damage to the Westfield Roseville Galleria, but it is expected to be substantial. According to reports, flames and clouds of smoke were clearly visible from the roof of the building. It's a story that is still lacking in detail, but it does present an opportunity to discuss a crime that we don't dig into all that frequently: arson.
Arson is the intentional or malicious burning or exploding of the dwelling house of another, or the burning of a building within the curtilage of the dwelling of another. Curtilage is the immediate surrounding space of a building. Many states recognize differing degrees of arson, based on such factors as whether the building was occupied and whether insurance fraud was intended.
In the end, the man arrested is going to be facing serious charges. He is fortunate in that no one was injured in the fire or evacuation, but considering the scope of the incident and the fact that it became a standoff situation, expect prosecutors to throw the proverbial book at him.