An armored-van security guard was shot Thursday in a gun battle outside the Hustler Casino in Gardena initiated by an unknown number of suspects who made off with a still-undetermined amount of cash from the vehicle.

Gardena police said the shooting occurred shortly after 10 a.m. in the parking lot of the casino in the 1000 block of West Redondo Beach Boulevard.

According to Lt. Christopher Cuff, two guards got out of the armored van and immediately came under fire in what he described as an “ambush.” At least one of the guards managed to return fire, but it was unclear if any of the suspects were struck.

Cuff said the suspects were able to escape with some cash, although it was unknown how much. It was also unclear how many suspects were involved, but Cuff said there were at least three.

The guard who was shot was taken to a hospital in critical condition, but was expected to survive, Cuff said. The other guard was also taken to a hospital for treatment of non-gunshot injuries, primarily cuts and abrasions.

The suspects scattered, prompting a massive law enforcement search of the area. Officers initially surrounded a nearby Moose Lodge, suspecting that at least one suspect may have run inside, but the building was eventually cleared and no suspects were found. Cuff said investigators located a white sedan nearby that was used by the suspects. It was unclear if any other vehicles were involved.

A search was continuing early Thursday afternoon.

According to Cuff, the suspects never entered or targeted the casino itself, although a glass door to the building was shattered, possibly in the commotion that erupted when the shots rang out, sending patrons scattering.

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