Los Angeles, CA – The Trader Joe’s assistant store manager who was killed during a man’s gunfight with police was shot by a police officer.
Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore made the revelation during a press conference on Tuesday morning, KNBC reported.
Chief Moore said 27-year-old Melyda Marciela Corado was struck by a bullet fired by a Los Angeles police officer when she approached the store’s front windows just as the gunfight broke out.
Prosecutors were expected to announce charges against the gunman, 28-year-old Gene Evin Atkins, later on Tuesday.
Police said incident began with a family dispute in South Los Angeles, WABC reported.
Atkins allegedly shot his 76-year-old grandmother seven times, and grazed his 17-year-old girlfriend with a bullet, before kidnapping his girlfriend and fleeing in a car, according to CNN.
Police used LoJack to track Atkins’ vehicle, and tried to stop his vehicle in Hollywood. However, Atkins refused to stop and led police on a chase instead.
Atkins fired at officers through the back window of his car before he crashed into a pole right outside Trader Joe’s, WABC reported.
Chief Moore said that people inside the store moved toward the front windows when they heard the crash to find out what was happening.
That’s when Atkins jumped out of his car, firing a semi-automatic pistol at officers, WABC reported.
Officers did not return fire during the pursuit, but they returned fire when Atkins opened up on them after he crashed in front of the store. Customers and employees in the store and in the parking lot sought cover as the glass doors at the front of Trader Joe’s shattered.
KNBC reported that some people climbed out widows to escape the store, while others barricaded themselves in rooms inside.
“I’m sorry to report that we’ve now determined through our forensic investigation that one of the officers’ rounds struck Ms. Corado as she was exiting the market and was in close proximity to Atkins,” Chief Moore told reporters at the press conference. “Ms. Corado ran back into the store and collapsed behind the manager’s desk.”
Atkins holed up in the store and took those inside it hostage after the gun battle, CNN reported.
The chief said Atkins sustained a through-and-through gunshot to his left arm during the gunfight.
He remained in the store negotiating with police through a three-hour standoff before he eventually surrendered, according to CNN.
KNBC reported that six people, ages 12 to 81, were transported to the hospital when the standoff ended. None of them had been wounded by gunfire.
Atkins faces 30 charges, including one count of murder, six counts of attempted murder (which includes four counts of attempted murder against a police officer), 13 counts of false imprisonment of hostages, and one count of felony evading, CNN reported.
His bail was set at $9 million and he was expected to be arraigned on July 24.
“I am truly sorry,” Chief Moore said at the press conference. “It is unimaginable, the pain of the Corado family. We share the pain today.”
Chief Moore said the investigation was ongoing, and that he had not made any determination as to the fates of the officers involved in the shooting at Trader Joe’s.
“I know it is every officer’s worst nightmare to harm an innocent bystander during a violent engagement,” the chief said. “I spoke with both these officers this morning. They’re devastated … However, from the information I’ve been provided to this point, I believe my officers’ actions were taken to defend themselves and in direct response to the deadly threat posed by Atkins.”
You can see video of the incident below: