A man who robbed an armored car guard at a Southern California shopping plaza was captured Friday after the guard fired gunshots that sent panicked shoppers fleeing, police said.
No one was injured but the exchange caused chaos and fears of a mass shooting at the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica.
The man approached a Brinks guard at around 11:15 a.m. and tried to stab the guard, who fired three shots at him, police said.
The man wasn’t hit and ran off with a bag of money but police swarmed the area and he was captured within an hour at a nearby parking structure a few blocks from the famous Santa Monica Pier. A knife and the money also were found, police said.
Siamak Kordestani of Los Angeles said he and colleagues were alarmed when they heard gunshots.
“I saw people, a few of them with dogs, actually running toward us and it dawned upon us that this was a shooting,” he said.
Kordestani said his group ran to a nearby store to take cover, and a worker locked the entrance behind them. He said conversations after the incident involved questions about the possibility of a mass shooting.
“It was pretty clear that there had been so many shootings throughout the country, including California, that (was) everyone’s first thought,” he said.
Kordestani said the area later returned to normal with workers taking lunch breaks and tourists strolling as police helicopters temporarily kept watch on the area.