2ND UPDATE: The Los Angeles Police Department confirmed Tuesday that a bullet from an officer’s gun killed Trader Joe’s assistant manager Melyda Corado during Saturday’s shootout with a murder suspect outside the Silver Lake store.
LAPD Chief Michel Moore said in a press conference today that Corado was hit as she exited the store’s front doors during the exchange of gunfire. She went back inside and collapsed behind a counter. She was eventually pulled out by employees, but could not be revived.
“I know that it’s every officer’s worst nightmare to hurt an innocent bystander during a violent engagement,” Moore said. “I spoke with the officers this morning — they’re devastated. They were devastated in the immediate aftermath of this event.”
The suspect, Gene Atkins, who was being pursued by police after allegedly shooting his grandmother. He and the LAPD exchanged gunfire after he crashed into a light pole outside the store during a pursuit, before entering and beginning what ended up being a three-hour standoff.
Atkins will be arraigned today after the Los Angeles District Attorney filed more than 30 counts against him including murder and six counts of attempted murder. Bail was set at $9 million.
UPDATED, SUNDAY AM: The gunman who took hostages at a Silver Lake Trader Joe’s and got into a shootout with police has been identified as Gene Evin Atkins, age 28.
Atkins was booked in the Los Angeles County jail on suspicion of murder because of the death of Melyda Corado, a manager at the Trader Joe’s who was killed in an exchange of gunfire between Atkins and police. He could be arraigned as early as Monday and will likely face additional charges, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Police Department said. He is being held on $2 million bail.
LAPD Chief Michel Moore told the Los Angeles Times that Corado was killed when she exited the store during the shootout. Moore said it is not clear whether police or Atkins fired the fatal shot. Atkins himself was wounded in the arm during the exchange.
The Silver Lake Trader Joe’s store remained closed on Sunday.
“Yesterday marks the saddest day in Trader Joe’s history as we mourn the loss of one of our own,” the company’s statement reads.
Atkins shot his grandmother to start the incident that led to the Trader Joe’s standoff. She is in stable condition at a local Los Angeles hospital. She has been identified as Mary Elizabeth Madison.
2ND WRITETHRU, 8:20 PM: A woman was killed during a three-hour standoff at the Trader Joe’s in Silver Lake that played out on live TV and ended with a suspect taken into custody. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said at a news conference that the woman was shot inside the store but did not provide further details.
“Our officers rescued that woman from inside and attempted to render aid with the assistance of LA Fire, but unfortunately were unable to revive her,” LAPD Chief Michel Moore said later at the news conference.
Asked if he knew who shot the woman inside the store, Garcetti said, “No information right now, sorry.”
Multiple local TV news stations and CNN were live on the scene of the standoff. Police had cordoned off multiple blocks around the store on Hyperion Avenue near Los Feliz Boulevard and Rowena Avenue and told news crews at the scene not to show the market on live TV as they assessed the situation. Garcetti later thanked the media for cooperating with that request.
Several hostages were seen exiting the store while LAPD crisis negotiators communicated with the suspect, who had answered his cellphone. He ended up handcuffing himself inside the store and was taken into custody “without incident.”
Police said it remains an active investigation and that “the area will remain closed as the investigation continues.
Garcetti said there “about 40 or 50 people” inside initially and that a “steady stream” of hostages either escaped during the incident, were rescued by officers or released by the gunman.
Moore said the incident began at about 1:30 PM on 32nd Street in South L.A. when the suspect shot his grandmother “as many as seven times” and fled in her car. He dragged an unidentified second woman into the grandmother’s 2015 Toyota Camry sedan and took off in it. Hollywood-area officers located the car using LoJack and began a pursuit that led to northeast area of L.A. “During the course of that pursuit,” Moore said, “the gunman inside fired on our officers multiple times.” The chase ended when he struck a power outside the Trader Joe’s.
“There are shell casings we believe from the suspect’s weapon in the middle of the street,” Moore said, “but as the suspect exited the vehicle, an additional gun ensued between the officers and the suspect.” He said the suspect was wounded in the left arm but “went into the store,” which was crowded with Saturday afternoon shoppers and numerous employees.
“Inside the store, a young woman was shot and killed,” Moore said. He said identify had not yet been confirmed.
“Once inside the store, the suspect — still armed with a handgun — took numerous citizens and store employees hostage and held them against their will. Over the next three hours, [officers] were able to rescue a number of the customers and the store employees from other entry points in that store. Additionally, the gunman released a number of hostages.”
Garcetti said the suspect’s grandmother was undergoing surgery at a local hospital and was “critical but alive.” The younger woman also was shot, but Moore said it was unclear whether that happened earlier or during the pursuit. Police did not update the condition of that victim nor did they disclose her relationship to the suspect. A Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman said earlier that a 20-year-old woman was in stable condition at a local hospital with unspecified injuries but did not offer any other details.
Los Angeles Fire Department public information officer David Ortiz said 18 ambulances and 100 firefighters are at the scene during the standoff. Police didn’t disclose how many officers were there, but dozens could be seen in TV coverage — including many SWAT team members — and a Bearcat armored vehicle was set up the entrance of the market. Sharpshooters had been positioned rooftops of nearby buildings.
The store is at 2738 Hyperion Ave., between Los Feliz and Rowena Avenue. Ortiz said a family-reunification center is set up at the LAPD’s Northeast Station, 3353 North San Fernando Road.
President Donald Trump was briefed on the hostage situation and sent out this tweet at 5:21 PM PT: