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SWAT team frees 14 hostages from store near LA airport, robbers flee

Authorities are searching for at least two armed robbery suspects after 14 people were held hostage overnight at a Nordstrom Rack in Westchester. CBS Los Angeles

Authorities are searching for at least two armed robbery suspects after 14 people were held hostage overnight at a Nordstrom Rack store near the Los Angeles International Airport.
CBS Los Angeles
(CBS/AP) LOS ANGLES - Police are searching for at least two robbers who allegedly stabbed a clothing store employee and sexually assaulted another during an hours-long hostage drama that ended early Friday with a police SWAT team surging into the shop and rescuing 14 workers.

Police were also were trying to determine whether the suspects used a car found abandoned in neighboring Culver City as their getaway vehicle.

The incident at the Nordstrom Rack store near Los Angeles International Airport began at about 11 p.m. when a man called 911 and reported that his girlfriend had called him and said there were gunmen in the store, Lt. Andy Neiman said.

Police officers and special weapons team members swarmed the Promenade at Howard Hughes Center, an outdoor shopping center.

The officers saw a man leave the second-floor store but he ran back inside when they tried to contact him, Neiman said.

Moments later, another man came out with a woman, but when he saw the police he grabbed her and pushed her back inside, Neiman said.

SWAT members surrounded the location but weren't able to talk to anyone inside during the four-hour standoff.

When they finally burst into the store, they found hostages locked in a storage room and others in a bathroom, Neiman said.

The 13 women and one man were all believed to be employees because the store was closed when the robbery began, Neiman said.

One hostage was treated at the scene for a non-life threatening stab wound, Neiman said, and another had been sexually assaulted. Other workers complained of minor injuries, "probably because they'd been manhandled or pushed away by the assailants," the lieutenant said.

Officers searched the store to make sure nobody was hiding but didn't find the robbers, Neiman said.

  • Crimesider Staff

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