A suspect accused of shooting his grandmother and girlfriend in South Los Angeles led police on a chase from Hollywood to Silver Lake Saturday, exchanging fire with officers and fleeing into a Trader Joe’s store, where an unknown number of hostages were taken.
The suspect, described by police as a male in his late teens, allegedly got into a family dispute and shot his grandmother and girlfriend around 1:30 p.m. in the 1600 block of 32nd Street in South Los Angeles, police said. Sgt. Barry Montgomery told reporters the suspect then took his grandmother’s car — a 2015 four-door Toyota Camry sedan — and fled the shooting scene with his girlfriend in the vehicle.
Police later spotted the vehicle in the Hollywood area and gave chase, leading to the Silver Lake area, where the suspect crashed the Toyota into a power pole in front of the Trader Joe’s supermarket in the 2700 block of Hyperion Avenue and fled inside — apparently firing at pursuing officers as he ran. Officers returned fire, but it was unclear if the suspect was hit. The rear window of the Toyota was shattered by gunfire.
An employee of the store told ABC7 he heard multiple gunshots as the man ran into the store, but he did not know if anyone was injured inside.
It was unknown how many people were inside the store when the suspect ran in. A throng of police and fire crews surrounded the store by about 4 p.m. Aerial TV footage showed what appeared to be a store employee dragging a woman from the grocery store.
Police were also seen carrying children away from the store, and some Trader Joe’s employees could be seen escaping the shop by climbing down a ladder hanging from a window near the rear of the building, assisted by a waiting officer.
Los Angeles Fire Department officials said they had taken one 20-year-old female patient, to a hospital in stable condition — possibly the suspect’s girlfriend from the crashed Toyota.
Police amassed outside the store, and around 5:30 p.m., at least three people who appeared to be customers came out of the store with their hands in the air — apparently hostages who were released or shoppers who had managed to elude the gunman.
“We know we have people inside, we just don’t know how many,” LAPD Sgt. Barry Montgomery said.
The store employee who spoke to ABC7 said he tried to rush people toward the back of the store to an exit, but he said he had no idea how many people remained inside. Another witness told CBS2 that he spoke to a man who said his children were still in the store.
The LAPD went on a citywide tactical alert, keeping all available officers on duty beyond their shifts to ensure enough personnel were available to respond to the barricade situation.
President Donald J. Trump posted on Twitter that he was “watching Los Angeles possible hostage situation very closely. Active barricaded suspect. LAPD working with federal law enforcement.”
Los Angeles fire crews set up a triage area outside the store, but as of early evening there was no sign that any additional patients were being treated.