An officer with the Los Angeles Police Department fired the bullet that hit and killed a Trader Joe’s employee during an exchange of gunfire with an attempted murder suspect who had taken hostages within the store, officials said.
“I am truly sorry,” LAPD Chief Michel Moore said at a news conference Tuesday.
Melyda Corado, a Trader Joe’s assistant manager, was heading toward the parking lot as suspect Gene Atkins was entering the store in Silver Lake, authorities said.
"Those officers' actions to stop him, the split-second decisions they had to make, I recognize how they will forever go through their lives debating whether that was what they had to do," Moore said. "I believe it's what they needed to do in order to defend ... the people in that store and to defend themselves."
Atkins had been allegedly firing at police and Corado was hit by LAPD gunfire in the exchange.
“It is unimaginable the pain of the Corado family,” Moore said. “We share that pain today.”
The incident began when Atkins allegedly shot his grandmother and kidnapped a 17-year-old female acquaintance. He fled in a car while firing shots out the back window toward pursuing police, officials said.
Officers did not fire at Atkins during the chase, which ended when he crashed the car and fled into the Trader Joe’s, allegedly firing at police along the way. A three-hour standoff ensued.
Atkins was arrested and 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.
Atkins is set to be arraigned Tuesday. His bail has been set at $2 million.