A Storm Lake, Iowa man is accused of trying to light fires in a movie theater and a local Walmart.
The Storm Lake Police Department says 21-year-old Alejandro Vargas Lopez of Storm Lake has been charged with 2 counts of Arson, Criminal Mischief Assault on a Peace Officer and several other charges.
Storm Lake Police tell KTIV-Channel 4 around 10:00 p.m. on November 30 officers were called to the Vista 3 Theater for a possible arson.
When police arrived, theater staff reported Vargas Lopez was in one of their theaters between movie showings and had allegedly poured fuel on the movie screen and on a seat, attempting to ignite the items.
Police say there was no one present in the theater when the fuel was poured, but patrons were present in other theaters at the time. Police say Vargas Lopez was gone before officers arrived on the scene.
Initial estimates indicate the screen and seat sustained $5,500 worth of damage. While investigators were processing the arson scene at the theater, officers were called to the Storm Lake Walmart on North Lake Avenue for a report of a person in the movie aisle attempting to start paper towel rolls on fire.
KTIV-Channel 4 reports that when police arrived they identified Vargas Lopez and took him into custody. Police say while Vargas Lopez was being taken into custody he spit in a police officer’s face.
While investigating the Walmart incident, Storm Lake police say Vargas Lopez had constructed a makeshift Molotov cocktail using a bottle of alcohol and a piece of children’s clothing from the store. Vargas Lopez allegedly ignited it in the movie section aisle of the store.
Police say Walmart staff intervened and extinguished the fire before officers arrived on the scene. Police say the quick response by the staff adverted what could have been a much more serious incident.
During the investigation, police allege that the diesel fuel additive used at the Vista 3 Theater incident was stolen from the Ace Hardware Store in Storm Lake by Vargas Lopez earlier in the night.
Police say that Vargas Lopez felt that movies were “ruining the world.” He has been booked into the Buena Vista County Jail. The investigation is ongoing.