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Gun violence in the US

One dead after police pursuit and shoot-out in Los Angeles

Several shoppers on social media described a terrifying scene of gunfire, people running for cover and hiding as the gunman ran into the store

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 22 July, 2018, 4:09pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 22 July, 2018, 10:02pm

A gunman who opened fire outside a Trader Joe’s in Silver Lake near downtown Los Angeles was in custody after a tense stand-off that claimed the life of one woman inside the store.

Mayor Eric Garcetti announced the death, saying the woman was pulled out of the store by authorities and declared dead at the scene. The mayor released no other details, saying police were trying to reach next of kin.

The incident began as a family dispute in South Los Angeles involving a man in his late teens. Police said he shot his grandmother and a second woman at her residence.

He then took off with the wounded woman 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 Los Angeles Times that the gunman opened fire on officers and ran inside the store.

The Los Angeles Fire Department said it had 18 ambulances and 100 firefighters on the scene. A family reunification centre has been established at the Northeast LAPD station.

The bullets were flying everywhere through the front of the store and across the car park
Don Kohles, witness

Several shoppers on social media described a terrifying scene of gunfire, people running for cover and hiding as the gunman ran into the store. One shopper said she was outside the store when the pursuit ended and sought cover behind a wall as the man opened fire and police shot back.

Don Kohles was outside the store when he saw the end of the pursuit.

Immediately, he heard two shots and ducked into the exit door. He looked back at the street and saw two police officers shooting at the man.

“The bullets were flying everywhere through the front of the store and across the car park,” he said.

The gunfire shattered the glass doors, he said, and the gunman ran into the store and “down the middle aisle.”

A woman at the 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.

Elias Cueva, who works at Gelson’s, was outside on his lunch break and saw the police chase.

“The tire exploded. When he couldn’t move the car, the police shot at him. I dove onto the floor,” he said.

Inside the Gelson’s, employees thought the shooter was outside.

“Right when we heard the gunshots, we went down. We thought the shooter was in our car park shooting at us,” Avo Kegeyan said.

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, who lives three doors from the Trader Joe’s, said he hoped no one had been shot.

“It’s always the busiest store in the neighbourhood – especially on the weekends,” he said.

Many said they visited the store so often that they had become friends with the employees.

We know all the people who work there. We’ve had them over. We’ve hung out with them
Anna Williams, resident

“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.

The situation paralysed a normally humming commercial district in Silver Lake. Restaurants, bars and shops along Hyperion Avenue went dark – either ordered on lockdown by police or shuttered by worried employees.

On some side streets near Trader Joe’s, people who tried to leave their flats were greeted with police loudhailers.

“Return to your home! Get off the pavement,” officers said.

Suzy Gonzalez of Echo Park was preparing to turn into Trader Joe’s car park for her weekly shop when officers waved her off.

She saw the crashed car and thought there had been a minor accident, but then noticed a line of 25 police vehicles streaming into the area.

“It almost looked like a funeral procession,” she said.

Police had closed off a large swathe of Silver Lake around Hyperion and Griffith Park Boulevard.

Officials urged the public to avoid the area.

US President Donald Trump tweeted that he was “watching Los Angeles possible hostage situation very closely”.