Trader Joe's supermarket employees hug after being evacuated by police after a gunman barricaded himself inside the store in Los Angeles. Picture: AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes
Trader Joe's supermarket employees hug after being evacuated by police after a gunman barricaded himself inside the store in Los Angeles. Picture: AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes

Supermarket shooting suspect revealed

OFFICER Drake Madison, a police spokesman, says 28-year-old Gene Evin Atkins was booked on Sunday and being held on $US2 million ($2.7 million) bail.

Atkins surrendered after a three-hour standoff at a Trader Joe's in the city's Silver Lake neighbourhood on Saturday.

Authorities say earlier on Saturday he shot his grandmother seven times and wounded another woman, who he forced into a car. He then fled with officers pursuing him through the city, exchanging gunfire.

The chase ended with Atkins crashing the car outside the store and heading inside where he held the store hostage for three hours.

One woman, store manager Melyda Corado, was shot and killed.

On Saturday, authorities said Atkins' grandmother was hospitalised in critical condition.

WOMAN KILLED IN TRADER JOE'S STANDOFF WAS STORE MANAGER

The woman senselessly shot to death in a Los Angeles Trader Joe's was the store's beloved manager, according to reports.

Melyda Corado, 27, had worked at the grocery store for four years, according to the New York Post, and was there Saturday when Gene Evin Atkins - who'd allegedly led police on a car chase - crashed into a utility pole in front of the supermarket and ran inside brandishing his weapon.

Melyda Corado was shot and killed by alleged shooter Gene Evin Atkins, who has been arrested. Picture: Facebook
Melyda Corado was shot and killed by alleged shooter Gene Evin Atkins, who has been arrested. Picture: Facebook

Albert Corado, Melyda's brother, tweeted his concern on the night of the shooting when he could not locate his sister:

Unfortunately, just a few hours after this tweet, as the hostage situation unfolded inside the supermarket, the bad news reached him:

"I'm sad to say she didn't make it. My baby sister. My world," tweeted Mr Corado, after having asked people to help him locate Melyda.

"She was the person I loved the most in the world. She was never anyone but herself for better of worse, she was herself," he told CNN.

A couple of hours before he busted into the supermarket, Atkins had allegedly shot his grandmother and wounded his girlfriend. He then dragged his hurt victim into a vehicle as he fled and led police on a car chase throughout the city.

About 40 people were inside the store where the chase ended, and some ran out as police surrounded the building - while others barricaded themselves in rooms or were able to climb out a back window on a chain ladder.

Melyda Corado was allegedly killed by the gunman inside the store at some point during the standoff, police told the Los Angeles Times.

Tributes poured in for the young store manager who loved cookies, gift cards and the movies Black Panther, according to her Facebook.

"I worked with her for years … Such a lovely, sweet, friendly, hardworking woman. I was thinking about her the whole time, and it's just incomprehensible," tweeted Felicia Wilson.

An unidentified woman is helped by paramedics at a triage area after a gunman held dozens of people hostage inside a Trader Joe's store in Los Angeles.Picture: AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes
An unidentified woman is helped by paramedics at a triage area after a gunman held dozens of people hostage inside a Trader Joe's store in Los Angeles.Picture: AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes

Celebrities including Nancy Sinatra, Patricia Arquette, BJ Novak and Busy Philipps tweeted their condolences to Albert Corado.

"Oh, Albert, I don't have the words to express the sorrow I feel in my heart for you and your sister. Something terrible has happened to our country and our people and we need to figure it out and fix it as soon as possible," wrote Sinatra.

About six people ranging in age from 12 to 81, were taken to the hospital, though none had been shot. The gunman surrendered and is in custody, police said.

It is unclear what led to the initial violence that produced the car chase and standoff. The man's grandmother was in critical condition and the girlfriend suffered a grazing wound.

EMPLOYEE HELPED SAVE COWORKERS

A brave Trader Joe's worker helped his co-workers escape out of a back window during a terrifying hours-long hostage situation, according to a report.

Sean Gerace was working in the backroom of the Los Angeles supermarket on Saturday when he heard shrieks and gunfire, he told NBC Los Angeles.

The fast-thinking worker grabbed a couple of his colleagues and quickly led them into a storage area, he recounted.

"I grabbed an emergency ladder, barricaded the hallway … put the ladder out the window and just tried to get the attention of a SWAT officer," he said.

Heavily armed officers in riot gear had surrounded the grocery store after a shooting suspect cops were chasing crashed his car into a utility pole outside of it and barged in, taking dozens of people inside hostage - and allegedly killing the store's manager, Melyda Corado, 27.

Mr Gerace and several of his co-workers were able to get down the ladder to safety, he said.

During the tense three-hour standoff, the 28-year-old suspect, ID'd as Gene Evin Atkins, allowed some of the hostage, including young children, to leave.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, centre, and brief the media at a news conference after a gunman held dozens of people hostage inside a Trader Joe's supermarket. Picture: AP Photo
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, centre, and brief the media at a news conference after a gunman held dozens of people hostage inside a Trader Joe's supermarket. Picture: AP Photo

"A slow steady stream of people who had hidden and were helped by LAPD to escape or people who were released by the hostage taker [were seen leaving the store]," LA Mayor Eric Garcetti said.

The gunman finally surrendered at around 6:30pm, after negotiators convinced him to handcuff himself and walk out with four hostages.

Video posted by ABC showed the store's sliding door open and the group walking out slowly with their hands raised above their heads - as cops moved in to grab the deranged gunman.

Hours before the standoff, the man had allegedly shot his grandmother close to seven times, then jumped into a car with his girlfriend, who he'd also shot, before leading police on the car chase.

A Trader Joe's employee, right, hugs her loved after a gunman held dozens of people hostage inside a Trader Joe's supermarket. Picture: Christian Monterrosa via AP
A Trader Joe's employee, right, hugs her loved after a gunman held dozens of people hostage inside a Trader Joe's supermarket. Picture: Christian Monterrosa via AP

"He said he would start killing us if he didn't get to talk to his granny," Lynne Westafer, a Trader Joe's employee told KCAL. "And he would start counting down from five - and that was terrifying."

"There were moments of total terror," she continued. "He loved the power and he was going to milk the situation."

This story first appeared in the New York Post and is republished with permission.


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