Melyda Corado, a Trader Joe’s assistant manager who died during a shootout Saturday, was killed by an officer’s bullet, Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore said.
“I am truly sorry,” Moore said at a news conference Tuesday. “It is unimaginable, the pain of the Corado family. We share the pain today.”
Police said the disastrous chain of events started when suspect Gene Evin Atkins shot his 76-year-old grandmother and kidnapped a 17-year-old female acquaintance.
As Atkins fled in his grandmother’s car, he fired shots out the back window toward pursuing officers, police said. Authorities said the teen he kidnapped was shot in the head but survived.
Officers did not fire at the gunman during the chase. But after Atkins crashed the car outside a Trader Joe’s and continued shooting at police, officers returned fire, Moore said.
As Atkins fled into the Trader Joe’s, Corado was exiting the grocery store, police said. That’s when Corado was struck by LAPD gunfire.
After the fatal shooting, Atkins holed up in the store and kept those inside hostage. A three-hour standoff ensued, including hours of negotiations, before Atkins surrendered to police.
Atkins now faces 30 charges, including one count of murder; six counts of attempted murder (including four counts of attempted murder against a police officer); 13 counts of false imprisonment of hostages; and one count of felony evading.
His bail is set at more than $9 million.
Both his grandmother and the wounded teen are in critical condition from their gunshot wounds, Moore said.
The police chief said the two officers involved in the shootout with Atkins are working with psychologists.
“I know that it is every officer’s worst nightmare to harm an innocent bystander during a violent engagement,” Moore said.
“They’re devastated in the immediate aftermath of this event that a person died in their efforts to stop Atkins. This is a heartbreaking reminder of the split-second decisions that officers must make every day and is also a sobering reminder of the destruction … a lone individual with a handgun can create.”