A 9-year-old boy and 25-year-old woman are hospitalized in critical condition Wednesday after being stabbed at a Target store in downtown Los Angeles.
The assaults led a security guard to shoot the suspect inside the store Tuesday evening.
"It's a troubling night with Los Angeles here — to see this type of violence in our city," said Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore.
According to Los Angeles Police Department, the incident occurred at the department store located on 7th Street and Figueroa Street at about 6:20 p.m. Police said the suspect appeared to be a homeless man.
He allegedly grabbed the long knife, described by police as a 9-to-10-inch "butcher-style knife," off of a store shelf, which he used to stab the victims.
Two people were stabbed inside the store before a security guard shot the suspect.
According to Moore, one of the victims was a 9-year-old boy. He was stabbed in the shoulder. He added that the boy came to the store with his mother but separated from her before being stabbed.
"Told the young boy that he was going to stab him and kill him," said Moore. "He repeated that more than once."
After the suspect said this, the boy tried to get away from the situation.
"Without any further provocation [he] suddenly attacked and stabbed this young child in the back."
Moore said that the young boy suffered a "deep laceration in his left shoulder."
Good Samaritans attempted to help the child shortly after the attack.
The other stabbing victim was an approximately 24-year-old woman. She was "brutally" stabbed in the chest, according to Moore.
Good Samaritans pulled the female victim into a pharmacy and closed the gate to protect them against the suspect.
"The suspect then continued on his path towards the front of the store near some cashiers," Moore said. "When a security officer employed by Target, a security officer in uniform, comes across him and then confronts him."
Moore said that the security guard tried to de-escalate the situation and chose to use a baton at first. The guard pulled out a firearm after the suspect continued to advance toward him. The security guard fired one to two rounds and hit the suspect in the stomach.
The two stabbing victims were taken to the hospital, along with the suspect. The child has been stabilized but since he sustained some potential neurological damage continues to be listed as critical. As of Thursday, the woman is said to be in critical but stable condition.
"The female victim that was stabbed in the chest is in worse condition," said Moore. "She has now entered into surgery and they're working to stop the bleeding encountered by this deep stab wound to the front of her chest."
Police said that the suspect is in custody and was declared dead at the hospital.
One witness said she came face-to-face with the suspect after he attacked the two victims.
"In the aisle I was in you heard this kid screaming, 'I'm sorry, I'm sorry,'" said Dina Echevarria, one of the Good Samaritans who rushed to help the victims. "Then you see this man hovering over him. I looked back up again and saw the guy grabbing the knife off the wall. He ripped it out of the plastic, and that's when he goes and attacks the kid."
He walked past Echevarria, a gynecologist, before attacking the second victim, which is when she ran to help the boy.
Moore said this was an unprovoked attack and officers are trying to determine a motive.
"This is by no means a frequent occurrence here," said Moore.
He added that officers were already in the shopping complex responding to a different call for service.
Another person was injured while she and a big crowd ran out of Target, according to Moore. Initially, police reported that this victim was repeatedly punched by the suspect.
A spokesperson for Target issued a statement on Wednesday in regards to the incident.
"On Tuesday evening, an individual attacked multiple guests at our 7th & Figueroa store in Los Angeles. We can confirm that a third-party security guard intervened to stop the attack and the Los Angeles Police Department was quick to respond to the situation. Safety is our top priority and our hearts go out to the guests who were injured. We're grateful for the aid provided by the Los Angeles Police Department and others, and we're focusing on supporting our team in the wake of the incident. We'd refer additional questions to law enforcement."
The unprovoked stabbing has reignited a conversation about the need to address mental illness and tackle the homelessness crisis.
Homeless advocate Andy Bales said the solution goes beyond getting people into housing. He added that any solution to this crisis needs to include proper mental health care and addition care.
"We need to not leave precious human beings on the streets until they are destroyed physically, emotionally and mentally," he said. "Destroyed in every way that's what we are doing."
for more features.