TV news producer among hostages at LA store standoff that left one woman dead; suspect arrested

TV news producer among hostages at LA store standoff that left one woman dead; suspect arrested
Police officers escort people after a suspect barricaded himself, with hostages, inside a Trader Joe's supermarket in Silverlake, Los Angeles, on July 21, 2018 (Robyn Beck / Getty Images)

A TV news producer was among a group of hostages in a Los Angeles standoff that left one woman dead, KCBS-TV reported.

KCBS-TV’s own news producer, Lynn Westafer, was inside the Trader Joe’s grocery store when an armed man barricaded himself inside with multiple hostages on Saturday.

What did she see?

The TV station gave this account:

He did not seem high on drugs, to me. He was shot, and there was a woman who […] really worked to try to keep him calm and sort of, almost advocate on his behalf. He seemed like he might have been in shock, actually, ’cause he was very cold, and they kept giving him, you know, sweatshirts and things like that.

At several points the suspect began counting down in an aggressive manner, Westafer said.

He was initially described as a man in his late teens, but later updates indicated he was 28-years-old. The suspect was taken into custody after a nearly 4-hour standoff with police at the Trader Joe’s near Hyperion and Rowena avenues, according to the TV station.

The Los Angeles Police Department reported that the suspect had allegedly shot his grandmother seven times at a home on 32nd Street in the Newton area of South Los Angeles around 1:30 p.m. A second woman was also shot and kidnapped by the suspect, who fled in a 2015 Toyota Camry.

Police were able to locate him in the Hollywood area via the car’s LoJack system, KCBS reported. A police pursuit ensued and he allegedly shot at officers, but no officers were injured.

The suspect crashed into a pole outside the Trader Joes before entering the building. After he stepped out of the car, he was involved in a firefight with police and sustained an arm injury, according to the report.

The suspect’s name was not immediately released by police.

Did some people escape?

Some people inside the store managed to get out, but other patrons and employees were taken hostage.

The TV station talked with a store employee who sought cover with other coworkers.

“I was working in the back room, heard screaming and gunfire, ran upstairs, grabbed a couple coworkers, made my way to into a back section of the storage area upstairs,” Sean Gerace told the TV station. “I grabbed an emergency ladder, barricaded the hallway, grabbed a weapon, put the ladder out the window, and just tried to get the attention of a SWAT officer.”

An officer saw him and that allowed Gerace and his coworkers to safely exit, according to the report. Others were able to seek cover inside a nearby dry cleaning business.

A negotiator made contact with he suspect who was taken into custody without incident around 6:30 p.m., according to the report.

Police told the TV station a woman was shot inside the store and declared dead after police entered the store. She was not identified, pending family notification.

The suspect’s grandmother is in critical condition. A neighbor, Esther Haydel, told the TV station that family member told her the incident began after the grandmother told the suspect he had too many televisions playing at once in the house. The account was not confirmed by police.

Everyone involved in the hostage situation was reunited with their families, the report states.