CALIFORNIA – Trader Joe’s lines were extensively long this afternoon, the product of, I can only assume, an arson at the Galleria Mall in Roseville which shut down the area’s greatest attraction – a 1.5 million square foot mall that 9 million people visit each year. Alexander Corney Piggee, the prime suspect, walked into a Game Stop shortly after the mall opened on Thursday, claimed to have a gun, muttered incoherently about his sister being abducted by “aliens,” and ordered the employees out. He then set fire to the store. Though Piggee was apprehended shortly after the mall was evacuated, his backpack had gone missing. Because police suspected it may contain an incendiary device, firefighters were not allowed to enter the mall, leaving only the sprinkler system to combat the fire. Instead, they attacked the fire from the roof, spraying down the flames climbing the building, as the damage spread and the roof caved in. By nightfall, the fire had been tamed, but smoke, fire, and uncountable gallons of water had left at least $7 million in damage, not including merchandise.
As the most successful mall outside of San Francisco, the Galleria has always been a hot spot. The day it opened, in 2000, caused unexpectedly high truancy rates throughout local school districts as kids cut school to see the stilt walkers and circus acts, and cram with thousands upon thousands of people to buy, buy, buy. I feel a great sadness for “the regulars,” a group of people I familiarized myself with when I too was a mall employee. “The regulars,” also known as “the die-hards” seem to live in the mall, and may in fact now be homeless. Fortunately, the loyal community has already rallied, with a musician offering to do a benefit concert, and concerned citizens calling to ask how they can help. The City of Roseville, which depends heavily on the mall’s $3 million in tax revenue each year, asks only that people continue to patronize the stores nearby, and turn out to support the stores upon reopen. At the moment, it is hoped the undamaged area of the mall will be open by the locally (and nationally) celebrated holiday, Black Friday, but it seems that my favorite store, American Eagle, was just beneath the scene of the crime. It is unlikely I will be able to “Live in Jeggings” anytime soon.
As a side note, it is rumored Piggee attempted to check himself in to a mental institution several times in recent weeks for depression, only to be denied. That was a mistake. As my sister says, “Local women everywhere will be crying for days at their loss.”