Nanaimo's Woodgrove Centre mall was temporarily locked down Monday evening as heavily armed police responded to a report of a youth with a gun inside.

"We received a call of a youth who had a firearm inside the Woodgrove mall," said Nanaimo RCMP Sgt. Jon Stuart at the scene.

The first call came in at approximately 5:20 p.m. By 6:30 p.m. officers had arrested a young male suspect nearby who had been inside the mall, Stuart said.

RCMP vehicles could be seen surrounding the mall. Several people inside told CTV News there was an immediate order to evacuate as police began streaming in through the mall's doors and searching stores.

"We were walking past the movie theatre entrance," one witness told CTV News at the scene. "I'd say then five or six cops came running in with not handguns but... rifles. And they woudn't let anyone in. And then five or 10 minutes later it went into an emergency evacuation."

The Regional District of Nanaimo Transit service tweeted shortly after 6 p.m. that its buses would not be leaving the mall until further notice due to an ongoing "police incident."

"There was no incident other than the male seen with a firearm at the mall but with an abundance of caution we felt it necessary to get our officers here quickly because we don't know what the male's intentions were to have a firearm at the mall," Stuart said.

"So we were here with force and I'm sure you'll have callers that say there was a lot of police officers here and that's the reason for it."

Police have not yet confirmed whether the reported gun was real or a replica.