Los Angeles police descended on a Trader Joe’s in Silver Lake on Saturday afternoon after a gunman opened fired outside the store at end of a police pursuit, sending shoppers diving for cover.
Los Angeles police Asst. Chief Robert Arcos said a gunman is barricaded in the store with some bystanders. Other law enforcement sources said the bystanders and the gunman appeared to be in different parts of the store.
The incident began as family dispute South Los Angeles involving a man in his late teens. Police said he shot his grandmother at residence and took off with one other person in a Toyota Camry. At some point, police began chasing his car, and that pursuit ended with a car crashing into a light post outside the Trader Joe’s. Law enforcement sources told The Times that the gunman was in the car with his girlfriend. He shot her, opened fire on officers and ran inside the store, the sources said.
Arcos said officers fired on the suspect but was not sure whether he was wounded. Sources said they believe he might have been hurt during the exchange.
There was no word on the girlfriend’s condition. TV footage showed police tending to a woman who appeared to be hurt, but it’s unclear whether she was a different victim.
The Los Angeles Fire Department said it had 18 ambulances and 100 firefighters on the scene. A family reunification center has been established at the Northeast LAPD station.
Several shoppers on social media as described a terrifying scene of gunfire, people running for cover and hiding as the gunman ran into the store. One shopper said was in front of the store when the pursuit ended. She said a man opened fire, and officers fired back. She sought cover behind a retaining wall.
Video on social media and television showed police helping children and families flee from the store.
A woman at a Gelson’s supermarket across the street said gunfire was heard in that store and that everyone dove to the floor. She said employees eventually let shoppers out. She was not aware of anyone who may have been hurt at Gelson’s.
About 30 people gathered at police lines on Monon Street. There was hushed conversation and sharing of details mainly gleaned from news reports. Some gathered were residents of homes beyond the barricades prohibited from returning until the situation resolved.
Retiree Robert Novak lives three doors from the Trader Joe’s. Leaning on his walker he said he was hoping against hope that no one had been shot. “It’s always the busiest store in the neighborhood — especially on the weekends,” Novak said.
Many said they visited the store so often that the employees had become friends.
“I’m there six days a week,” one woman declared.
“We know all the people who work there. We’ve had them over. We’ve hung out with them,” said Anna Williams, who lives on Monon.
“It’s the equivalent of your local bodega in New York. You stop there for everything,” said Jessica Passoff, who lives on Rowena.
Police had closed off a large swath of Silver Lake around Hyperion Avenue and Griffith Park Boulevard.
Officials urged the public to avoid the area.
President Trump said on Twitter he was “watching Los Angeles possible hostage situation very closely. Active barricaded suspect. L.A.P.D. working with Federal Law Enforcement.”
SOURCE: RICHARD WINTON, JACK DOLAN, HARRIET RYAN and CHRISTINE MAI-DUC
The Los Angeles Times