A store manager at a Trader Joe’s in southern California was shot dead this weekend during a three-hour standoff with police.
Melyda Corado died after an armed man fleeing law enforcement barricaded himself inside the grocery store in Silver Lake on Saturday afternoon, taking hostages and trading shots with officers parked outside. The Los Angeles Police Department took the man, later identified as 28-year-old Gene Atkins, into custody in lieu of a $2 million bail Saturday evening.
“The destructive and tragic consequences one person can inflict are at the forefront of our minds tonight, as is the valor and dedication of our men and women who strived to protect so many innocent people,” said LAPD Chief Michel Moore via Twitter. “Our thoughts, prayers and hearts are with all effected by this senseless incident.”
It’s unclear whether Atkins or an officer shot Corado, Moore told local media outlets, though he confirmed she suffered the fatal injury while escaping the store along with other trapped employees and shoppers.
Atkins’s crime spree began hours earlier, Moore said, when he shot his grandmother multiple times during a heated argument at their home in South Los Angeles. He then kidnapped a woman believed to be his girlfriend and drove her around in his grandmother’s Toyota Camry before police caught up with him in Hollywood. Atkins fled, firing out the back window with law enforcement in pursuit. He crashed the vehicle into a light post outside of Trader Joe’s, where he sought refuge for three hours before surrendering.
Cyrani Ackerman, 49, told the Los Angeles Times she and her 19-year-old daughter were headed toward the checkout line when she heard screeching tires and gunfire outside.”Seven of us were hiding in the back behind the bread,” she said. “There was a lot of shots fired.”
Once inside, Atkins forced one of the shoppers to round up everyone else hiding in the store, Ackerman said. She could hear him negotiating with police and talking about Corado’s death. “He said to the police that it was their fault for her being dead,” she said.
Corado’s brother, Alpert, confirmed her passing via Twitter on Saturday. “I’m sad to say she didn’t make it. My baby sister. My world. I appreciate the retweets and the love,” he said. “Please respect my family’s privacy as we are still coming to terms with this.”
Atkins’s grandmother underwent emergency surgery over the weekend and is expected to survive, according to a report from the Los Angeles Times.