Alleged Gunman In Silver Lake Trader Joe's Standoff Arrested On Suspicion Of Murder
Authorities have arrested a 28-year-old man on suspicion of murder following a tense standoff Saturday with police that left a woman dead. For hours, the incident at a Trader Joe's in Silver Lake paralyzed part of the city and even captured the attention of President Trump.
Gene Evin Atkins was booked into jail shortly after 2 a.m. Sunday morning, according to jail records.
LAPD Spokesman Drake Madison said Atkins is being held on $2 million bail. Authorities had initially described the suspected gunman as a male in his late teens.
Atkins fled into the crowded neighborhood grocery store Saturday afternoon, barricading himself with hostages. He had just crashed his car outside the store after leading Los Angeles police officers on a chase through city streets. He'd allegedly shot his grandmother multiple times before the car chase began.
A day later, the area near the Trader Joe's is still being treated as a crime scene.
One woman was shot and killed during the chaos. Family members identified her as Melyda Corado, 27. She was a store manager. Her brother and sister had reached out on social media during the standoff for help finding her.
"My sister works at the #traderjoes in #silverlake I can't get a hold of her and I'm not sure if she was able to get out or is one of the hostages," her brother, Albert Corado, wrote on Twitter. "If anyone with any information could help me out it would be much appreciated. I feel helpless and I'm scared for my sister."
About three hours after asking if anyone had information about her, Albert Corado told those who had tried to help his family that they'd heard the worst.
"I'm sad to say she didn't make it, " he wrote. "My baby sister. My world."
I'm sad to say she didn't make it. My baby sister. My world. I appreciate the retweets and the love. Please respect my family's privacy as we are still coming to terms with this. #TraderJoes #SilverLake— Albert Corado (@digitalurn) July 22, 2018
LAPD officials have so far declined to confirm the identity of the person killed.
Authorities said Atkins fired at officers during the pursuit and that they returned gunfire after he crashed and ran into the Trader Joe's.
It was not immediately clear who fired the fatal shots. She was pronounced dead at the scene, according to LAPD officials, who said the woman had been "struck by gunfire." Regardless of who fired the shots, Atkins could be prosecuted for murder because her death stemmed from his alleged crimes.
Trader Joe's said in a statement last night:
"Our hearts are broken over what happened today. This has been an incredible trauma, and our thoughts are with our Crew Members and customers. Our focus is on doing whatever we can to support them at this time. We appreciate everything Los Angeles law enforcement did to ensure an end to this ordeal."
The tragic incident began Saturday afternoon in another area of the city. Atkins allegedly shot his grandmother as many as seven times about 1:30 p.m. The grandmother was reported Saturday to be in critical condition after surgery.
Authorities said he then forced another woman, believed to be his girlfriend, into a car and drove away. Police officers gave chase through Hollywood, ending with the man crashing his car outside the Trader Joe's, and barricading himself inside the store.
Officials said about 40 store employees and customers were inside.
Witnesses shared harrowing stories. Don Kohles, 91, was just walking into the store when it all began.
"Just as I turned, I heard all these gunshots and I turned around and this car crashed right in back of me," Kohles said. "He ran right behind me. I went in the first door, where you come out, he went in the second door where they all go in and that's a double door."
Kohles said he was "scared stiff" as a staff member made him to lay flat on the floor.
"Then the police shot out both windows where you go in," he said.
He waited half an hour on the floor before police were able to get him to safety.
Authorities actively tried to get the barricaded gunman to surrender, as other hostages escaped from windows.
One employee, Sean Garace, was working in the back room when he heard screaming and gunfire. He ran upstairs, seized a couple of his co-workers with him, and made his way into a storage area.
"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," he told NBC4.
Once he got the attention of officers outside the building, he and several co-workers were able to climb down the ladder to safety.
The standoff ended as live TV coverage of the scene showed a man in a tank top and four hostages emerging from the store with their hands in the air. The man was surrounded by police officers, and pinned against a wall. Authorities said he asked for handcuffs prior to exiting the store. He was taken away in an ambulance.
Police are still investigating the initial shooting, which took place in the Newton Division. The area around the store is still being treated as a crime scene. The LAPD said Hyperion Avenue, between Griffith Park Boulevard and Ettrick Street, will be closed until noon Sunday.
John Rabe and Elizabeth Munoz contributed to this report.
10:51: This article updated with the eyewitness account by Kohles.
This story originally published at 10:38 a.m.
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