The Westfield Century City mall was evacuated Friday as police, firefighters and a bomb squad responded to a report of a man with a gun and a fire inside an Amazon bookstore.
Los Angeles Police Department officers responded to the facility in the 10000 block of Santa Monica Boulevard at about 12:45 p.m., according to department spokesman Sgt. Barry Montgomery.
When they arrived, people were streaming from the mall and they set about trying to locate the suspect, Montgomery said. A security guard informed officers he hadn’t heard any gunshots or located any victims, according to the sergeant.
“While proceeding with their search, officers were directed to a suspicious package located inside the Amazon store,” Montgomery said. “In an abundance of caution (an) LAPD bomb squad and (the) Los Angeles Fire Department responded to the scene.”
Smoke was seen coming from the Amazon store at about 2 p.m.
Four hours later, police reported that the item was not explosive and the evacuation was over. Police had initially said the mall was being reopened, but later reported that stores would remain closed until morning.
Fire sprinklers had been activated inside the Amazon store, according to news reports.
Police were conducting an arson investigation to determine how the burning, smoking package ended up in the Amazon store.
People in parts of the mall were evacuated, but those in other areas of the large facility were advised to shelter in place while officers conducted a search, police said.
Paul Almond, a Century City attorney, told City News Service he was having lunch at Toscanova in the mall when the restaurant manager said police had ordered him to evacuate the restaurant. At that point the manager told diners and workers to leave immediately.
Almond said he walked out of the mall and was joined on the sidewalk by numerous other shoppers and diners who had also been ordered out. He then went to a building housing a bank on the east side of Avenue of the Stars, across the street from the mall, and found that building too had been locked down.
At the H&M clothing store, employees and shoppers were ushered into a basement area where they holed up for about two hours before the LAPD lifted the shelter-in-place order around 2:35 p.m.
According to a broadcast report, a person described as a male in his late teens who had a gun was seen on a security camera, although an LAPD official said no gun or gunman was seen by authorities.
Hours after the incident began, many evacuees remained gathered across the street from the mall waiting until they could retrieve their vehicles.
Police announced about 7 p.m. that customers and employers were free to collect their property and vehicles.
Andrew Gillum, the former mayor of Tallahassee, Florida who unsuccessfully ran for governor in that state in November, posted a video to social media saying he was among those evacuated from the mall.
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