LOS ANGELES — A store worker killed in a gunbattle before a suspect took hostages in a crowded supermarket was hit by a police officer’s bullet, Police Chief Michel Moore said Tuesday.
The employee, Melyda Corado, 27, was leaving the store Saturday as the suspect, Gene Evin Atkins, 28, was going into the store after firing two rounds at officers pursuing him, Moore told reporters.
The two officers each fired back at Atkins and one of their rounds went through one of Corado’s arms and into her body.
In deciding whether to open fire, the officers had to consider whether the suspect in what was already a long-running series of violent events would become an active shooter in a market crowded with weekend shoppers, Moore said.
“That is the worst, worst decision that any officer ever wishes to have to make,” the chief said.
Atkins was scheduled to be arraigned later Tuesday on numerous charges.
The events began about 1:30 p.m. in South Los Angeles when Atkins allegedly shot and wounded his 76-year-old grandmother and fled in a stolen car, taking along a 17-year-old girl who was grazed by a bullet. Moore said the abduction of the girl was kidnapping.
Around 3 p.m., officers spotted Atkins in Hollywood and got into a car chase with him.
Moore said Atkins fired at the officers through the rear window of his vehicle but the officers did not fire back at that time.
About 15 minutes later he crashed into a utility pole outside a Trader Joe’s market in the Silver Lake neighborhood, where the gunbattle erupted. Corado was fatally struck and Atkins was wounded in the arm.
Store employees and customers fled or hid.
Atkins held some as hostages, let some go and then surrendered several hours later.
Investigators recovered casings of the two bullets fired at the officers after the car crash, Moore said.