BROOMFIELD, Colo. (CBS4) – Police in Broomfield have identified the man they say set a fire inside a Walmart and threatened customers inside with a knife.
Samuel Maldonado-Tapia, 28, is in custody after he allegedly caused so much panic on Monday in the store that it was evacuated and then closed for several hours.
The crime happened in the early afternoon at the retailer, located near 120th and Sheridan.
Police so far aren’t saying much about why the man was so upset, but several shoppers talked with CBS4 about what happened.
“We look over and there’s flames going on over by the Kitchen Aid and everybody’s like, ‘Oh man, what’s going on?’ ” witness Dominique Le’Nior said. “Some people were running, some were freaking out, some were like, ‘Can I get my groceries?’ ”
Witnesses said a child may have been one of the two people the man threatened. The man also allegedly set some clothes on fire.
“When officers confronted Maldonado-Tapia he was holding a knife to the throat of a 6-year-old boy who was sitting in a shopping cart,” Broomfield police said in a statement. “Officers later learned that a 43-year-old Northglenn woman and her 6-year-old son had been shopping in the store when she noticed a fire in a nearby clothing rack.”
Police said the woman attempted to call 911 when she was approached by Maldonado-Tapia with a knife.
“Maldonado-Tapia attempted to grab her, during which she fell to the floor. Maldonado-Tapia turned his attention to the woman’s 6-year-old son in the shopping cart and held the knife to the boy’s throat, threatening to kill the child,” police said.
Officers arrived and ordered Maldonado-Tapia at gunpoint to drop the knife. He complied but attempted to run.
“The officers tackled Maldonado-Tapia. He resisted the officers as they attempted to take him into custody,” police said.
Police were able to subdue Maldonado-Tapia and take him into custody.
“I think that’s a little crazy cause it’s Walmart and everyone goes there, it’s a neighborhood place,” Regine Le’Nior said.
Brandon Boyle is the son of one of the employees who was in the store at the time and told a CBS4 crew outside the store while the investigation was going on that he was worried.
“I’m kind of freaking out because my mom was supposed to be working today, now they’re over there in the parking lot and we have no clue what’s going on,” he said.
No injuries were reported and there wasn’t much damage to the store.