STUDIO CITY (CBSLA) — One woman is dead after a gunman entered the Trader Joe's grocery store in Silver Lake, barricading himself inside with multiple hostages.
The suspect, described initially as a man in his late teens, was taken into custody following a nearly 4-hour standoff with police at the Trader Joe's near Hyperion and Rowena avenues Saturday afternoon.
According to the Los Angeles Police Dept., a the 28-year-old man allegedly shot his grandmother seven times at a home on 32nd Street in the Newton area of South L.A. around 1:30 p.m. A second woman was also shot and kidnapped by the man who fled in a 2015 Toyota Camry.
The man then made his way north, and police were able to locate him in the Hollywood are through the car's LoJack system.
He was then involved in a police pursuit, during which he allegedly shot at officers multiple times. No officers were injured.
He ended up in Silver Lake around 3:30 p.m., where he crashed into a pole outside the grocery store located at 2738 Hyperion Ave. before entering the building.
After the suspect exited the vehicle, he was involved in a firefight with police, during which he suffered an injury to his arm, LAPD Chief Moore said.
Some people were able to get out, but the suspect remained inside with patrons and employees.
CBS2's own news producer Lynne Westafer was one of those people. She said the visibly upset suspect asked to speak to his "granny" several times. She said one of the hostages was trying to comfort the man.
"He did not seem high on drugs, to me," Westafer recalled. "He was shot, and there was a woman who [...] really worked to try to keep him calm and sort of, almost advocate on his behalf," said Westafer. "He seemed like he might have been in shock, actually, 'cause he was very cold, and they kept giving him, you know, sweatshirts and things like that."
Westafer also said the man at several points started to count down in an aggressive manner.
CBS2 spoke to one store employee who sought cover with some coworkers.
"I was working in the back room, heard screaming and gunfire, ran upstairs, grabbed a couple coworkers, made my way to into a back section of the storage area upstairs," Sean Gerace said. "I grabbed an emergency ladder, barricaded the hallway, grabbed a weapon, put the ladder out the window, and just tried to get the attention of a SWAT officer."
The worker said once the officer saw him, he let him and his coworkers exit through a window.
Others sought cover inside a nearby dry cleaner.
A negotiator was in contact with the suspect, who was put in police custody around 6:30 p.m. without incident.
Moore confirmed a woman was shot inside the store, and she was declared dead once officers were able to extract her. Her name was withheld, pending family notification.
Albert Corado claimed to be the victim's brother, tweeting, "[S]he didn't make it." The L.A. County Coroner identified the woman as Melyda "Mely" Corado, reportedly the store's manager.
The man's grandmother was listed in critical condition. Esther Haydel, who lives near where the initial shooting took place, told CBS2 she heard from a family member that the incident began when the man's grandmother told him he had too many TVs on in the house. This account has not been corroborated by police.
The suspect's cousin told City News Service he didn't know what precipitated the confrontation, but he did say the grandmother saw a gun under the suspect's pillow on Friday. He also said she did not want the man's girlfriend in the house.
Patron Michaela Watson left the store just as the suspect arrived. Watson said she and other customers were stuck in their cars for about 30 minutes as police surrounded the area.
Mayor Eric Garcetti, who was the councilman for District 13 just south of the store, became emotional as he thanked the first responders.
"I think like many parents out there, it was difficult to keep things together watching small children come out of windows on the second floor who were hiding," Garcetti said.
"The good news was, because of LAPD and the heroism of the hostage negotiator, hostages were being released.[...] We are very lucky to have this police department, this fire department. Nobody's ever perfect, but they are extraordinary individuals. The bravery they showed today, the tactical prowess that they showed, and just the humanity was pretty breathtaking."
LAPD said it recovered a gun at the scene.
A family reunification location was set up at the LAPD Northeast Community Police Station located at N. 3353 San Fernando Rd. All involved have been reunited with their families.
A witness tweeted he got out of the store safely, along with some employees.
Donald Trump tweeted he was monitoring the situation before deleting it Saturday evening. Below is a screenshot:
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