ROSEVILLE, Calif. (CBS/KOVR) Hours after police arrested Alexander Piggee, who allegedly set a fire and barricaded himself inside a suburban Sacramento mall, firefighters were able to contain the blaze that destroyed part of the region's shopping hub.
City leaders in Roseville, about 17 miles east of the state capital, pledged to make a speedy recovery after the Roseville Galleria was set ablaze just as the stores were gearing up for the crucial holiday shopping season.
The incident began just after 10 a.m. when the 23-year-old suspect entered a GameStop store located on the mall's second floor.
Employees at the store say the suspect, who a friend and co-worker identified as Piggee, made some incoherent remarks about his sister being held captive and ordered employees out of the store, telling them that he had a gun.
The man then set a fire inside the store. Witnesses told CBS affiliate KOVR that they saw smoke billowing out the front doors of the GameStop and then saw SWAT officers with guns drawn approaching the store and ordered the suspect out.
At 12:15, officers captured the suspect outside the store in a corridor where he was attempting to hide, they say. Three heavily armed officers walked the hand-cuffed man out of the mall to an outside bench where they kept him for nearly an hour. The suspect was also checked out by paramedics before he was taken away in a patrol car.
The suspect was taken to a local hospital to be evaluated, but has since been transported and booked into the Placer County Jail.
Piggee's coworker and friend also told KOVR that the "past couple of weeks had been very hard on him." Apparently Piggee was recently in a car accident and had been on Oxycontin. She also said that his mother had kicked him out of the house a few months ago.
The 240-store mall, operated by Westfield Corp., was built in 2000. It underwent a $270 million expansion that was completed in 2008, adding Louis Vuitton, Tiffany and Burberry and other high-end stores.
Westfield Group spokeswoman Katy Dickey said there are no estimates yet on the cost of the damage.
CBS affiliate KOVR interviewed the Piggee's mother, who said she told him to move out of the family house several months ago because he was old enough to live on his own. Since then, he had been rotating among family members, said the woman, Mary Carter.
"He wasn't a bad kid. I don't know what happened," she told the station.
She went on to say that her son had developed mental health problems in the past couple of years and that he recently was fired from a fast-food burger chain in West Sacramento.
Piggee used Facebook a lot and commented often on his own mental state, reported KOVR.
On October 14th, he posted: "So I have anxiety...depression...OCD..ADD...and bi-polar personalities."
He went onto post: "Death to me would be the easiest way for me to solve all my mental issues...but I love myself and my sister too much to end my own life."