A Los Angeles crime spree involving attempted murder, kidnapping; a high-speed vehicle pursuit and a shootout with police ended after a three-hour standoff involving multiple hostages and one dead at a Trader Joe’s in the city. The LAPD just put out body camera footage showing the high-octane car chase and shootout. Watch it above.
Shooting & Kidnapping
It all started on the afternoon of July 21, 2018, when 28-year-old Gene Atkins shot his 76-year-old grandmother multiple times after an argument in their home. He then forced a 17-year-old female acquaintance—who was also shot—into his grandmother’s Toyota Camry, the Los Angeles Times reported. According to the New York Post, some of Atkins’ cousins were present in the home at the time of the shooting. They called the LAPD to report the incident.
The vehicle was equipped with LoJack, thus enabling the LAPD to track its movements. When police caught up to the vehicle to Hollywood hours later, Atkins stepped on the gas, initiating a high-speed car chase. During that pursuit, Atkins shot at LAPD officers numerous times.
LA Shootout at Trader Joe’s
Eventually, Atkins crashed the stolen car into a light post outside a Trader Joe’s. He got out of the car and started running for the store entrance, shooting at officers as he did so. The officers returned fire, striking Atkins once in the arm.
During the gunfight, 27-year-old Melyda Corado, an assistant store manager at that Trader Joe’s location, was shot and killed as she exited the store. Police later determined that the fatal round came from the handgun of an LAPD officer.
Atkins entered the store and took over 40 employees and customers hostage, the LAPD press release says. After three hours of negotiating, he eventually surrendered to police.
Atkins’ grandmother and female acquaintance are in critical condition as of this writing.
LAPD Chief Michael Moore said the officers who inadvertently killed Corado were “devastated.”
“On behalf of myself and the rest of the Department, I want to express my deepest condolences and sympathy to [Corado’s] family and everyone that knew her,” Moore said in a statement. “I know that it’s every officer’s worst nightmare to hurt an innocent bystander during a violent engagement. I spoke with the officers this morning — they’re devastated. They were devastated in the immediate aftermath of this event.”
In addition, the officers involved have been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation. Moore is standing by the officers.
“I believe it’s what they needed to do in order to defend the people of Los Angeles, defend the people in that store and to defend themselves,” Moore said. “I ask that you place yourself in these two officers’ positions and ask yourself: what would you have done?”
Atkins is now facing 31 different charges, including one count of murder; kidnapping; fleeing a pursing peace officer’s vehicle while driving recklessly; grand theft; driving or taking a vehicle without consent; and shooting at an occupied vehicle and assault with a firearm. He’s also been charged with two counts of premeditated attempted murder; four counts of attempted murder of a peace officer; four counts of assault on a peace officer with a semiautomatic firearm; and 13 counts of false imprisonment of a hostage.
A judge set Atkins’ bail at more than $9 million.