What We Know About The Silver Lake Trader Joe's Standoff

Unidentified Trader Joe's supermarket employees hug after being evacuated by police after a gunman barricaded himself inside the store in Los Angeles on Saturday. (Damian Dovarganes/AP)

Editor's note: This story was updated at 9:50 a.m. Tuesday with new information.

Local residents, customers and staff are still grappling with a terrifying police standoff at the bustling neighborhood Trader Joe's in Silver Lake on Saturday that ended with a suspect in handcuffs and a beloved store manager dead.

Police arrested 28-year-old Gene Evins Atkins following a shootout and an hours-long hostage situation. Atkins himself was injured after exchanging gunfire with officers. Store manager Melyda Corado was killed after a bullet fired by a Los Angeles police officer struck her, Los Angeles Police Department Chief Michel Moore said Tuesday.

Here's what we know so far.

WHAT THE POLICE SAY HAPPENED

Police use a mirror to see inside the Silver Lake Trader Joe's after a gunman took hostages inside on Saturday. (Photo courtesy of local resident Christian Dunlop)

The incident began with a report of a shooting in South L.A. about 1:30 p.m. Saturday.

According to a statement released Monday by the LAPD, Atkins allegedly shot his grandmother and injured another young woman, kidnapped her and fled in his grandmother's car. Police were able to track the vehicle, which was equipped with LoJack.

Chief Moore offered new details about the pursuit and multiple shootings in a press conference on Tuesday, July 24.

Just after 3 p.m., uniformed officers from the Hollywood division observed Atkins in the area and attempted to pull him over, which kicked off the pursuit.

During the chase, Atkins fired at pursuing officers multiple times through the back window of his car. When the suspect approached the Trader Joe's on Hyperion Avenue, he swerved and crashed into a pole in front of the store.

As the two pursuing LAPD officers pulled up to the scene, the suspect fired at them again. The officers returned fire at Atkins as they exited their vehicle, Moore said. At that same moment, Corado walked to the front door after hearing the commotion caused by the crash just as the suspect was running inside.

One of the officer's bullets struck Corado and she sustained a "through-and-through wound to the left arm that moved into her body," Moore said. Corado then moved back into the store and collapsed behind the manager's desk.

The officers took up positions behind a nearby wall. Atkins, now inside the store, fired more rounds toward officers through a front window, but officers did not return fire, Moore said. Atkins then held more than 40 employees and customers hostage.

Emergency personnel blocked off the area for hours as they negotiated with the suspect. Moore said Atkins threatened to kill some of the hostages. But at some point, Atkins asked for handcuffs, put them on himself and surrendered, according to police, who said they recovered a handgun at the scene.

Ten people were evaluated by emergency medical personnel. Six were taken to local hospitals, but none of them had life-threatening injuries.

WHAT WITNESSES DESCRIBED

Crowds gathered Sunday to pay their respects at the Trader Joe's in Silver Lake, where just a day earlier a police pursuit ended in a shootout and a hostage situation that ended with one woman dead and the suspect in handcuffs. (Brian Frank/LAist)

Don Kohles, a 91-year old Silver Lake resident, said he was walking into the store when he heard two loud sounds: the suspect's car crashing into a pole, and police firing at the suspect.

"I saw this man run in the two doors, and the doors closed behind him, and then the police shot out both windows," Kohles told KPCC/LAist.

Kohles said a Trader Joe's staff member told him to get on the floor, and he stayed down there with other employees before police came and helped him out.

One customer, Cyrani Ackerman, told the L.A. Times she was inside Trader Joe's with her daughter when the shooting began. Ackerman said the gunman ordered an employee to bring everyone out where he could see them. When he realized police had surrounded the building, she said he threatened to kill them, but eventually he began letting people go.

WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT THE SUSPECT

Atkins was arrested on suspicion of murder and is being held on $2 million bail, police told KPCC and LAist.

Family members told NBC4 he had been living with his grandmother since he was about 9.

Charlene Egland, a cousin who lives next door, said he had been in and out of mental facilities since childhood and that he may be "suffering from a mental illness," according to NBC4.

"He's not the same from when we were growing up. He changed. I don't know if it has something to do with his mom passing away, because she died four years ago," Egland said.

Atkins had allegedly been violent toward his grandmother before, smashing the windows in her house and slashing her tires, Egland said. But Egland also told the Times that his grandmother had repeatedly cared for him despite prior run-ins with police and sometimes violent arguments.

"Whenever he got into something, she'd go to his rescue; that's why I can't even believe what he did to her," Egland said.

WHO WAS MELYDA CORADO?

Melyda Corado is seen in a picture posted to a GoFundMe page.

Family members identified the woman who died as store manager Melyda Corado, 27.

"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," Albert Corado said on Twitter.

The victim was remembered as "Mely" and "Mel" in several comments posted at a vigil on Sunday.

A Facebook page for "Mely Corado" bore dozens of comments expressing loss and love and sharing a link to help the family.

Corado's Facebook page indicated she worked at Trader Joe's. In comments she left, she expressed her love of Danish butter cookies, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, dogs, tequila and the movie "Black Panther." In one comment, she wrote "Wakanda forever." A Post-It note stuck to the wall outside the Trader Joe's on Sunday also read "Wakanda forever" in an apparent reference to her appreciation for the film.

"She was amazing," one store employee told NBC4. "She gave great hugs and she was always just so warm and welcoming to customers and employees and everyone she met. She was just so sweet and so professional about everything."

WHAT HAPPENED TO THE OTHER VICTIMS?

Egland, Atkins' cousin, told the L.A. Times that the gunman's grandmother had come out of surgery and will likely be OK.

Another victim, described as a 22-year-old woman, was hit by glass fragments during the incident. She was able to take herself to the hospital for treatment, according to police.

The young woman Atkins allegedly kidnapped has been described as his girlfriend. NBC4 said she had been grazed by a bullet but was expected to be OK.

HOW THIS HAS AFFECTED THE STORE AND ITS STAFF

A woman leaves a candle among the flowers and messages showing support for the employees of Trader Joe's at a vigil on Sunday. (Brian Frank/LAist)

In a statement, Trader Joe's acknowledged the loss of an employee in "this terrifying and unimaginable ordeal" and said the company's thoughts were with the family.

"Yesterday marks the saddest day in Trader Joe's history as we mourn the loss of one of our own," the statement read.

Long-time customers, local residents and staffers came together in support at a vigil Sunday, embracing, shedding tears and remembering their friend and colleague Corado.

Flowers, candles and handwritten notes were laid out on the sidewalk and posted to the wall on Hyperion Avenue. One poster read "Silver Lake loves you." Some folks poked candles through the tiny paper cups used for coffee samples, which bore the TJ's logo.

The company said its Silver Lake store will remain closed until further notice to give staff time to process the incident.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

A GoFundMe page has been set up for the family of Melyda Corado to help pay funeral costs and expenses. You can donate here.

WHAT QUESTIONS DO YOU HAVE?


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