STORM LAKE, Iowa (KCAU) – Police in Storm Lake arrested a man over the weekend after they say he tried to start a fire in a movie theater and then caused another incident at a Walmart.
The Storm Lake Police Department said in a release that officers were called to the Vista 3 Theater at 712 Lake Avenue in Storm Lake Saturday just before 10 p.m. for a report of arson. Theater staff told police that between showings, a person poured diesel fuel additive on the movie screen and a theater seat before he then tried to ignite them. The suspect, later identified as Alejandro Vargas-Lopez, 21, of Storm Lake, then fled.
While people were in the theater complex, no one else was in the theater itself. Damage to the screen and seat were estimated at $5,500.
While investigating the incident, the police received a report of a person at the Walmart on North Lake Avenue in the movie aisle trying to start paper towel rolls on fire.
The police said that Vargas-Lopez made a make-shift Molotov cocktail using a bottle of alcohol and a piece of children’s clothing from the store and ignited it. He then took paper towels and placed them on shelves and tried to light them. Walmart staff intervened and extinguished the fire before the police arrived. The quick actions by the staff stopped what could have been a more serious incident, police said.
While taking Vargas-Lopez into custody, police said he spit in an officer’s face. They also said they found $25 of merchandise on him. The estimated damage to the store was $30.
The Storm Lake Police Department said that Vargas-Lopez felt that movies were “ruining the world.”
Police said they connected Vargas-Lopez to the theater arson. They also said that the diesel fuel additive he used at the theater had been stolen from the Ace Hardware Store in Storm Lake earlier in the night.
They charged Vargas-Lopez with the felonies of second-degree criminal mischief and two counts of first-degree arson. He was also charged with the misdemeanors of assault on a peace officer, fifth-degree criminal mischief and two counts of fifth-degree theft. He was booked into the Buena Vista County Jail on a $56,900 cash bond.
Authorities are continuing to investigate the incidents.