San Mateo police on Sunday responded to reports of an armed man walking in the area of Hillsdale Shopping Center, according to the department, and later had a suspect in custody.
On Monday, police identified the suspect as Allen Grabovetsky, a 27-year-old resident of San Mateo. He was booked into San Mateo County Jail on charges of impersonating a public officer and brandishing a replica firearm, police said.
Officers eventually cleared the area without incident after the initial report at about 3:05 p.m. Sunday and did not immediately find an armed subject but continued to search, police said. Witnesses reported seeing the man with a gun in his waistband, and he was telling people he was a police officer.
Later, police arrested Grabovetsky, saying he was the same suspect who had brandished a gun at nearby Laurelwood Shopping Center, telling people there he was a member of the military. The arrest took place back at Laurelwood mall about 7:45 p.m., police said.
No gunshots were reported, but officers flooded the area out of an abundance of caution, police said. And while the Hillsdale mall stayed open, police requested that the public avoid the area. Some stores closed down temporarily.
Police initially thought they were dealing with multiple armed suspects because they received multiple calls from both shopping centers. But Grabovetsky wore different outfits during each incident, a police spokesman said.
The two shopping centers are less than 2 miles apart.
Grabovetsky has a record of committing similar crimes. In 2010, he was charged with multiple counts of impersonating a police officer and other crimes, police said.