The gunman who held dozens hostage and killed one at a California Trader Joe’s has been arrested, Los Angeles Police said Saturday. 28-year-old Gene Atkins got into a stand-off with law enforcement after barricading himself inside the store and fatally shooting a woman who worked there.
He is now being held on $2 million bail for suspected murder. A spokesman for LAPD said he is likely to be charged later this week.
Trader Joe’s standoff leaves one dead
The standoff was the fatal conclusion to a police chase that began Saturday when Atkins allegedly shot his grandmother and girlfriend over a dispute at home. He then stole his grandmother’s car and left the area with his girlfriend.
Police tracked the vehicle using LoJack tracking technology, and a chase ensued. Atkins reportedly “fired multiple rounds” at the officers before crashing into a utility pole outside the Silver Lake store.
Atkins then barricaded himself inside the store, setting off a hostage situation that lasted three to four hours. The gunman had as many as 50 hostages inside the store when SWAT was called in.
Police warned the public to stay away from the store near the intersection of Hyperion Avenue and Griffith Park Boulevard in the Silver Lake neighborhood of L.A. They later confirmed that one female victim, 27-year-old Melyda Corado, one of the store’s managers, had died in the shooting.
“Inside the Trader Joe’s, a female victim was struck by gunfire. She was pronounced dead at the scene,” police said. It is unclear if Corado was killed by gunfire from the suspect or police.
Hostages released unharmed
Eighteen ambulances and 100 firefighters arrived at the scene prepared for massive casualties, but thankfully, no other hostages were seriously injured, though 5 suffered nonfatal injuries. Some of the hostages had escaped through a window down a rope-ladder, and others barricaded themselves in rooms inside the store as police exchanged fire with the suspect through the store’s glass doors.
The rest of the hostages were freed when the suspect, who was shot in the arm, agreed to surrender to police over the phone. He handcuffed himself around 6:30 p.m., and walked out the front door of the store with four hostages.
He was immediately arrested.
Victim “in good spirits”
The suspect’s grandmother, Mary Elizabeth Madison, who the suspect shot seven times, was in critical condition but was later reported stable on Sunday. Family members said Madison is “in good spirits” in the hospital.
The suspect’s girlfriend was treated for a nonfatal graze wound.
A relative said the suspect and his grandmother had been feuding for weeks over his girlfriend, who was staying at their south Los Angeles home. The suspect reached his breaking point on Saturday when Madison complained that too many TV sets were turned on at the house.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti thanked law enforcement and first-responders for resolving the crisis quickly in a statement on Sunday.
“The heroism that was shown today was second to none,” Garcetti said, “and the teams that were able to respond, secure the perimeter and engage in conversation with the suspect no doubt saved lives today.”