A gunman who opened fire outside a Trader Joe’s in Silver Lake was in custody Saturday evening after a standoff that began when he shot two people at a South L.A. home and fled in a car. Police were not searching the store to care for bystanders who were inside.
Witness described a terrifying scene of shoppers diving for cover amid the gun battle.
Los Angeles police Asst. Chief Robert Arcos said the gunman is in the Trader Joe’s with some bystanders. Other law enforcement sources said the bystanders and the gunman appeared to be in different parts of the store.
The incident began as 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 Times that the gunman opened fire on officers and ran inside the store.
Arcos said he was not sure whether the suspect was wounded by police gunfire. Sources said they believe he might have been hurt during the exchange.
There was no word on the condition of the second woman who was shot. TV footage showed police tending to a woman who appeared to be hurt, but it’s unclear whether she was a different victim.
The Los Angeles Fire Department said it had 18 ambulances and 100 firefighters on the scene. A family reunification center has been established at the Northeast LAPD station.
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. She sought cover behind a retaining 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 parking lot,” 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 a 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 works at Gelson’s and 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 Gelsons , employees thought the shooter was outside. “Right when we heard the gunshots, we went down. We thought the shooter was in our parking lot 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 neighborhood — especially on the weekends,” he said.
Many said they visited the store so often that the employees had become friends.
The situation paralyzed a normally humming commercial district in Silver Lake. Restaurants, bars and shops along Hyperion 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 apartments were greeted with police bullhorns.
“Return to your home! Get off the sidewalk,” officers ordered.
Suzy Gonzalez of Echo Park was preparing to turn into Trader Joe’s parking lot for her weekly shop when officers waived 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 recalled.
“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.
Police had closed off a large swath of Silver Lake around Hyperion Avenue and Griffith Park Boulevard.
Officials urged the public to avoid the area.