STORM LAKE, Iowa -- A Storm Lake man who told police that movies were "ruining the world" was arrested Saturday after he tried to set a fire at a movie theater and later set fire to paper towels in the movie aisle at Wal-Mart.
Alejandro Vargas Lopez, 21, was booked into the Buena Vista County Jail on a $56,900 cash bond on two counts of first-degree arson and a single count of second-degree criminal mischief, all felonies, and misdemeanor charges of assault on a peace officer, fifth-degree criminal mischief and two counts of fifth-degree theft.
According to a Storm Lake Police news release, officers were dispatched at 9:59 p.m. Saturday to the Vista 3 Theater, where workers reported that between movie showings, someone had poured diesel fuel additive on the movie screen and a theater seat and attempted to set them on fire, causing $5,500 in damage. No one was inside that theater at the time, but movies were being shown in other theaters. The suspect had left the theater before the damage was found.
While police were at the theater, officers were called to Wal-Mart, where a person was trying to start rolls of paper towels on fire in the movie aisle. At the store, officers located Vargas Lopez, who spit in an officer's face before he was subdued.
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Police found a makeshift Molotov cocktail they believed Vargas Lopez had made from a bottle of alcohol and a piece of children's clothing stolen from the store. Vargas Lopez is suspected of opening a roll of paper towels and lighting it, but store workers were able to extinguish the fire before police arrived.
During the investigation, police determined Vargas Lopez was responsible for the damage at the movie theater and had stolen the diesel additive earlier in the night from Ace Hardware in Storm Lake.