An assisant store manager who was shot and killed in during a gunbattle at a Trader Joe’s supermarket was hit by a police officer’s bullet, Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore said Tuesday.(July 24)
Melyda Corado, a Trader Joe’s assistant manager who died during a three-hour standoff between a gunman and police on Saturday, was killed by a Los Angeles Police Department officer’s bullet, the LAPD said Tuesday.
“As chief of police, I am sorry for the loss, this tragic loss,” Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore said in a news conference. “I want to express my deepest condolences and sympathy to her family and to everyone who knew her.”
A standoff ensued when a gunman took dozens of hostages Saturday at a Trader Joe’s in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles. The suspect, Gene Atkins, shot at officers as he ran into the store, police said. When officers returned fire, a bullet hit Corado, 27, as she stood at the store’s entrance. She ran back into the store and collapsed behind the manager’s desk, according to Moore.
The officers involved in the incident are “devastated,” Moore said.
“I know that it is every officer’s worst nightmare to harm an innocent bystander during a violent engagement,” Moore said. “This is a heartbreaking reminder of the split-second decisions that officers must make every day.
The LAPD also released bodycam and dashcam footage from the standoff at the news conference. Mourners have covered the store’s sidewalk with flowers and memorials to Corado. The store’s front windows are blocked with plywood.
The incident has sparked debate on whether the officers acted responsibly in apprehending the shooter after he shot his grandmother, kidnapped his girlfriend and led police on a chase before firing at officers and taking hostages.
Sid Heal, a retired Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department commander and use-of-force expert, told the Los Angeles Times that the suspect was a clear threat to the officers and the surrounding civilians.
“We try to have a clear field of fire, but obviously the suspect has a substantial, even a decisive, advantage if we don’t return fire,” he said. “There is no easy answer.”
However, some were quick to criticize the LAPD’s decision to fire back.
“How are police deciding to open fire in a packed place, in the afternoon, on a Saturday?” Jesse Palmer, a neighbor of Corado’s, told the Times. “What sort of protocol is required before you shoot into an area that’s congested and booming with commerce?”
Reaction on social media was mixed.
Atkins was fleeing after shooting his grandmother, Mary Madison, and a 17-year-old female acquaintance earlier that day, police say. Both women survived the shooting and were taken to the hospital in critical condition, Moore said.
The Los Angeles District Attorney’s office filed more than 30 counts against Atkins, including one count of murder, six counts of attempted murder, 13 counts of false imprisonment of hostages and one count of felony evading. His bail is set at $9 million.
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