LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The Westfield Century City mall will open at 10 a.m. today as usual after a portion of it was evacuated for more than five hours as police, firefighters and a bomb squad responded to a report of a man with a gun and a fire inside an Amazon bookstore.
People were streaming from the mall in the 10000 block of Santa Monica Boulevard as Los Angeles Police Department officers arrived at about 12:45 p.m. Friday to search for the suspect, according to department spokesman Sgt. Barry Montgomery.
A security guard informed officers he hadn't heard any gunshots or located any victims, Montgomery said.
“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 2 p.m.
Police reported about 6 p.m. that the item was not explosive and the evacuation was over, although stores would remain closed for the evening.
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 while others were advised to shelter in place while officers conducted a search, police said.
The suspect is described as a Hispanic or Asian man, 20 to 25 years old, 5 feet 8 inches to 5 feet 10 inches tall, weighing 130 to 150 pounds. He is considered armed and dangerous. Anyone who sees the suspect was asked to call 911 or the LAPD's Major Crimes Division at (213) 486-7260.
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. 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 had also 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.
Hours after the incident began, many evacuees remained gathered across the street from the mall waiting until they could retrieve their vehicles.
Police announced at 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.
Photo: Getty Images