GLENDALE, Ariz. – It was a chaotic scene inside an Arizona mall as a man who was caught shoplifting with his child in tow is accused of pulling a gun on security guards and then punching one of them.
But the chaos didn't stop there. The gun went flying over the railing and landed near a line full of children waiting to see Santa Claus. The man, identified as 28-year-old Lorenzo Perez, Jr., also used his 4-year-old son as a human shield during the ensuing standoff.
Luckily, no one was hurt during the ordeal.
One person who witnessed the incident was at the Arrowhead Mall with five of her young children. She thought the worst when she saw the commotion.
"If I go to the mall, it's going to be by myself. I'll have to do it alone because I don't want to put my kids through that again," said Tina Qwiatkowski.
Qwiatkowski recorded video of Perez as he was on the ground being handcuffed. Perez is accused of shoplifting at the JC Penney store near 75th Avenue and Bell Road.
"They got him so quick, it was like a blink of an eye, the cops were there already, they got him, the got him on the ground, they cuffed him and everything," said Qwiatkowski.
Glendale police say loss prevention officers saw Perez stealing and confronted him. That's when they say Perez pulled out a gun and punched a female officer in the face.
Perez then ran out of the store, grabbed his child and then threw a gun over the railing.
"I thought it was a terrorist, that's the first thing that went through my head. I thought he was a terrorist," said Qwiatkowski.
Police say the gun landed on the first floor near a line of families waiting to see Santa Claus.
"It was scary, my heart just pounding," Qwiatkowski said.
Police say Perez took about $67 worth of merchandise. He's now facing several felony charges, including robbery, aggravated assault and endangerment.
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