New Orleans police on Thursday arrested a 20-year-old man accused of robbing three students Saturday on the Tulane University campus.

Tre Spadoni confessed to the robbery and was being questioned Thursday evening about his possible role in other crimes, police said.

The robbery happened about 4 p.m. Saturday inside the university’s Lavin-Bernick Center. Police said the students were studying when Spadoni sat down, pulled out a BB gun and ordered them to get cash from a nearby ATM.

“It looked just like a real gun,” said Cmdr. Paul Noel, of the NOPD’s 2nd District. “He simply picked (the students) at random.”

Spadoni fled down Freret Street after the robbery but was photographed in surveillance video, which police released to the public earlier this week. Police said Spadoni was identified as the robber through “citizen participation and Crimestoppers tips.”

He was taken into custody Thursday afternoon in the 2900 block of Orleans Avenue. Authorities said they recovered the BB gun used in the robbery and some clothing Spadoni was wearing during the robbery.

“What this shows is the importance that citizens have” in helping police track down criminals, said Darlene Cusanza, president and CEO of Crimestoppers of Greater New Orleans.

Noel said Spadoni had been motivated by “financial gain” but did not elaborate.

The young man’s father told The Times-Picayune that Spadoni recently lost his job and, unable to pay his rent, borrowed money from a shady group of people who jumped him and threatened to kill him when he had trouble repaying his debt.

“He panicked,” Spadoni’s father told the newspaper. “He truly didn’t know what else to do.”

Follow Jim Mustian on Twitter, @JimMustian.