LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – A suspected gunman being pursued by police crashed his car and then went into a Trader Joe’s store in Los Angeles on Saturday, where he barricaded himself in and took an unknown number of hostages, police said.
The man opened fire on the officers chasing him before entering the premises while shoppers ran for cover as shots rang out inside, the Los Angeles Times reported.
“We have a barricaded suspect and he is armed and we can’t get in there right now,” Los Angeles Police spokesman Barry Montgomery told reporters at the scene.
“We know that we have people inside. We simply don’t know how many,” he said, adding police are trying to get the suspect to surrender and bring the situation to a peaceful conclusion.
No police officers have been injured, Montgomery said.
Aerial footage from local TV stations NBC Los Angeles and CBS Los Angeles showed people leaving a store window using a rope ladder and police carrying children to safety through a parking lot in the city’s Silver Lake neighborhood.
More than an hour after the standoff began, a few hostages were shown on TV leaving the store through the front door. Some of those who escaped said they hid in employee areas in the back of the store.
One woman inside the store was shot but able to get out, NBC Los Angeles reported.
Prior to the incident at the grocery store, the suspect allegedly shot his grandmother and girlfriend before fleeing in his car, CBS Los Angeles reported citing a police source. Police said he was a suspect in a separate shooting but did not offer further details.
A woman who appeared to have been shot emerged from the suspect’s car in front of the store and was placed in a police vehicle, TV footage showed.
U.S. President Donald Trump said he was watching the possible hostage situation very closely. “Active barricaded suspect. L.A.P.D. working with Federal Law Enforcement,” Trump wrote on Twitter.
Reporting by Andrew Cullen; Additional reporting and writing by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by James Dalgleish and Daniel Wallis