Angry over problems at the pump, a 40-year-old man splashed gasoline on the floor at a Novato, California, convenience store while threatening to burn it down, KNTV reported.
“I was so scared!” clerk Sanjeev Kumar said, KGO reported, in the 7 a.m. Saturday incident. “I didn’t want to be close to him; I wanted to stay away.”
Juan Roman stalked out, then returned with some paper and snatched a lighter off the counter, KPIX reported. He ignited the paper and threw it on a gasoline-soaked floor mat, a store security video obtained by KGO shows.
The mat did not catch fire, and Roman fled in his pickup truck to a nearby Safeway gas station, where police summoned by Kumar caught up to him, The Marin Independent Journal reported.
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“I didn’t know what was going on at first. I thought maybe the guy was speeding or something, but when they jumped out and drew rifles, I knew something more was going on,” said Safeway customer Mike Mahoney, KPIX reported.
Officers, who said they thought they had initially seen a rifle or shotgun stock in a bag in the truck, evacuated the area and began negotiating with Roman, The Marin Independent Journal reported.
Six hours later, Roman offered to surrender in exchange for cigarettes, but officers worried he might have earlier gotten gasoline on himself, KNTV reported.
Police offered him a vape pen, instead, and dispatched a police robot to deliver it to Roman in his pickup truck, The Marin Independent Journal reported.
“If we can do something that won’t make the situation more difficult, either deliver food, or water, or cigarettes, if that helps end the situation peacefully, we make that happen,” Lt. Sasha D’Amico of the Novato Police Department said, KPIX reported.
Roman faces charges of attempted arson and vandalism, KGO reported.