Man charged in Los Angeles mall panic incident

March 19, 2019 GMT
FILE - This undated file booking photo provided by the Los Angeles Police Department show Nicholas K. Oates. Prosecutors on Tuesday, March 19, 2019 charged Oates they say caused a panic at a Los Angeles mall last week. The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office says Nicholas Oates faces charges including burglary, arson and assault with a firearm. The panic occurred Friday, March 15, when a man entered a store at Westfield Century City mall, took books from shelves and began to ignite them. Police say an employee attempted to stop the man but he pulled a handgun. (Los Angeles Police Department via AP, File)
FILE - This undated file booking photo provided by the Los Angeles Police Department show Nicholas K. Oates. Prosecutors on Tuesday, March 19, 2019 charged Oates they say caused a panic at a Los Angeles mall last week. The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office says Nicholas Oates faces charges including burglary, arson and assault with a firearm. The panic occurred Friday, March 15, when a man entered a store at Westfield Century City mall, took books from shelves and began to ignite them. Police say an employee attempted to stop the man but he pulled a handgun. (Los Angeles Police Department via AP, File)
FILE - This undated file booking photo provided by the Los Angeles Police Department show Nicholas K. Oates. Prosecutors on Tuesday, March 19, 2019 charged Oates they say caused a panic at a Los Angeles mall last week. The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office says Nicholas Oates faces charges including burglary, arson and assault with a firearm. The panic occurred Friday, March 15, when a man entered a store at Westfield Century City mall, took books from shelves and began to ignite them. Police say an employee attempted to stop the man but he pulled a handgun. (Los Angeles Police Department via AP, File)
FILE - This undated file booking photo provided by the Los Angeles Police Department show Nicholas K. Oates. Prosecutors on Tuesday, March 19, 2019 charged Oates they say caused a panic at a Los Angeles mall last week. The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office says Nicholas Oates faces charges including burglary, arson and assault with a firearm. The panic occurred Friday, March 15, when a man entered a store at Westfield Century City mall, took books from shelves and began to ignite them. Police say an employee attempted to stop the man but he pulled a handgun. (Los Angeles Police Department via AP, File)
FILE - This undated file booking photo provided by the Los Angeles Police Department show Nicholas K. Oates. Prosecutors on Tuesday, March 19, 2019 charged Oates they say caused a panic at a Los Angeles mall last week. The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office says Nicholas Oates faces charges including burglary, arson and assault with a firearm. The panic occurred Friday, March 15, when a man entered a store at Westfield Century City mall, took books from shelves and began to ignite them. Police say an employee attempted to stop the man but he pulled a handgun. (Los Angeles Police Department via AP, File)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Prosecutors have charged a Missouri man they say caused a panic at a Los Angeles mall last week.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office says Nicholas Oates pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges including burglary, arson and assault with a firearm.

The panic occurred Friday when a man entered a store at Westfield Century City mall, took books from shelves and began to ignite them.

Police say an employee attempted to stop the man but he pulled a handgun, causing the employee to evacuate the store.

People fled the mall, and social media was flooded with erroneous reports of an active shooter.

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A car left at the mall led police to identify Oates, who was arrested Saturday.

The 25-year-old is due back in court April 3 for a preliminary hearing.