At least three people were shot, at least one of them fatally, when a suspect erupted in violence at home and then drove to a Trader Joe’s store in Los Angeles on Saturday afternoon and held dozens of store employees and customers hostage.
The standoff lasted about three hours, ending with the unidentified suspect being taken into custody.
The fatality was identified as Melyda Corado, an employee of the Trader Joe’s store, in the city’s Silver Lake section, according to a Twitter message posted by her brother and reported by local media.
“I’m sad to say she didn’t make it. My baby sister. My world. I appreciate the retweets and the love,” Albert Corado tweeted. “Please respect my family’s privacy as we are still coming to terms with this.”
The other shooting victims were believed to be the suspect’s grandmother and girlfriend, according to police. They were shot about two hours before the Trader Joe’s standoff, at a home in South Los Angeles, authorities said.
The grandmother was in critical condition after being shot seven times, according to the Associated Press. The girlfriend suffered a relatively minor head wound and was in good condition, police said, according to the Los Angeles Times.
After the shootings in South LA, the suspect reportedly forced the girlfriend into his grandmother’s Toyota Camry and drove off, drawing police pursuit and ultimately crashing into a pole near the Trader Joe’s store, NPR reported.
“He was on three tires so he couldn’t make the turn,” witness Dan Zito told the Times.
After exiting the vehicle and running toward the store, the gunman traded shots with police who were in pursuit, the L.A. Times reported.
“The bullets were flying everywhere,” witness Don Kohles told the Times.
“The bullets were flying everywhere.”
One shot from police struck the suspect in his left arm before he stormed into the supermarket, where he took 40 to 50 hostages, the newspaper reported.
Police fired at the suspect and shattered the store’s glass doors.
The suspect returned fire, fatally shooting the Trader Joe’s employee during the exchange, the paper reported, citing a law enforcement source.
Some inside the supermarket climbed out windows as scores of police and firefighters and 18 ambulances converged on the scene and prepared for mass casualties.
Heavily armed officers in riot gear stood along the side of the store and used mirrors to look inside as hostage negotiators tried to coax the man into freeing his hostages and surrendering.
At about 6:30 p.m., about three hours after the standoff began, the man agreed to handcuff himself and walked out the front door, surrounded by four hostages.
The unidentified man, who police said was about 28 years old, was immediately arrested.
“Those bullets went right over the back of me as he was running right down the main aisle,” witness Kohles, a 91-year-old customer, said. After about 30 minutes of terror and sobs, police came inside and rushed out Kolhes and others near him.
Fire officials said six hostages, ranging from 12 to 81 years old, were hospitalized. None had been shot and all were in fair condition.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.