The Los Angeles Police Department continued to investigate Friday’s shooting inside a Costco in which an off-duty LAPD officer shopping with his family was allegedly attacked by a stranger as he held his young child, before he shot and killed the assailant and critically wounded two of the man’s relatives, identified by a cousin as his mother and father.
The shooting occurred at 7:46 p.m. at the store at 480 N. McKinley St., Corona Police Officer Tobias Kouroubacalis said.
“Investigation has confirmed an off-duty Los Angeles Police Department Officer was shopping at Costco with his family. Without provocation, a male unknown to the officer’s family assaulted the officer while the officer was holding his young child,” Kouroubacalis said.
“This attack resulted in the officer firing his weapon, striking the male and two of the male’s family members. The family members are being treated at local hospitals and are in critical condition,” he said. “The off-duty officer was transported to a local hospital, where he was treated and released.”
The child was not injured.
The assailant was identified as 32-year-old Kenneth French of Riverside, the Corona officer said.
French was described as a mentally disabled “gentle giant” who rarely spoke by cousin Rick Shureih in a Press-Enterprise report on Sunday. “He (had) to be pretty much monitored,” Shureih told the newspaper. “He’s not the kind to trade words, so I don’t believe that a verbal confrontation happened.”
Shureih posted on Facebook a picture of French’s parents, Russell and Peola French, and wrote: `I’m not keeping quiet about this! People need to know! This is my family! These are the victims of the Costco shooting the other night. My cousin Kenneth was killed and his parents, my aunt & uncle were also both shot and are in ICU. Do they look intimidating to you? Did he really have to shoot them all? I’m posting this picture because the stories on social media have made them out to be the suspects, and the off duty cop the victim. This is a family that was unarmed and was just grocery shopping. Truth will come out! I’m sure this was a misunderstanding that got escalated for no reason! If anyone was a witness please get in contact with us.`
Shureih said the family is working on hiring a lawyer, and is seeking the name of the off-duty officer, as well as surveillance video and witness accounts to try to understand what happened.
The off-duty officer — assigned to the Los Angeles Police Department’s Southwest Station — suffered minor injuries in the incident, Officer Greg Kraft of the LAPD’s Media Relations Section said.
“The officer’s gun was the only weapon involved in the incident, contrary to earlier reports,” Kouroubacalis said. “As is standard procedure in such investigations, the Corona Police Department is working closely with the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office, who will be evaluating the facts and circumstances of this incident.”
When officers responded to a shots-fired call at the store, located at 480 N. McKinley St., they anticipated an active-shooter situation, according to Lt. Jeff Edwards of the Corona Police Department.
“They (officers) went inside and encountered four subjects down,” Edwards said.
Witnesses told police there was an argument between a man with a Mohawk haircut and another man in the freezer section of the store before at least six shots were fired, KCAL9 reported.
Most customers ran out of the store when the gunfire erupted.
Former U.S. Marine Aurtis Wilson told the Press-Enterprise he heard two people arguing near the store’s produce section, then heard gunshots.
Personal items belonging to shoppers who fled the store, including purses, cellphones and backpacks, were secured by officers, police said in a statement Saturday morning.
“The items will be kept for safekeeping and will be released to the owner with proper identification,” the statement said.
Customers who left shopping bags or other items of interest need to contact Costco at 951-279-1190 to retrieve their property.
An LAPD use-of-force investigative team was at the scene all night conducting its own investigation, CBS2 reported.
“We have initiated an administrative investigation, to where we’re working with the Corona Police Department,” Kraft said.
Anyone who witnessed the shooting or has information about it was asked to contact Corona Police Lt. Robert Newman at 951-817-5788 or via email at Robert.Newman@CoronaCA.gov.
The Costco store opened a couple hours later than scheduled Saturday.
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