Gunman in Trader Joe's standoff was feuding with grandmother

Police officers guard the entrance to the Trader Joe's Los Feliz store, as it remains closed for business, Sunday, July 22, 2018, in Los Angeles. A day earlier, Trader Joe's employee Melyda Corado was shot and killed at the store by a suspect being chased by police. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
In this photo provided by Christian Monterrosa, a suspect is arrested after evading police and holding dozens of people hostage inside a Trader Joe's supermarket, Saturday, July 21, 2018, in Los Angeles. (Christian Monterrosa via AP)
A card for Trader Joe's employee Melyda Corado, who was shot and killed a day earlier at the store by a suspect being chased by police, hangs at a makeshift memorial, outside the Los Feliz Trader Joe's supermarket in Los Angeles, Sunday, July 22, 2018. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
An unidentified woman is helped by paramedics at a triage area after a gunman held dozens of people hostage inside a Trader Joe's store in Los Angeles Saturday, July 21, 2018. Police believe a man involved in a standoff at the Los Angeles supermarket shot his grandmother and girlfriend and then fired at officers during a pursuit before he crashed into a utility pole outside the supermarket and ran inside the store. Hours after he took hostages in the store, the suspect surrendered. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
An unidentified Trader Joe's supermarket employee, center, talks on her phone as Los Angeles Police evacuate a group of witnesses after a gunman barricaded himself inside the store in Los Angeles Saturday, July 21, 2018. Police believe a man involved in a standoff at the Los Angeles supermarket shot his grandmother and girlfriend and then fired at officers during a pursuit before he crashed into a utility pole outside the supermarket and ran inside the store. About three hours after he took hostages in the store, the suspect surrendered. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
A makeshift memorial of flowers, candles and notes grows on the sidewalk outside the Los Feliz Trader Joe's store in Los Angeles, Sunday, July 22, 2018. A day earlier, Trader Joe's employee Melyda Corado was shot and killed at the store by a suspect being chased by police. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, center, and Police Chief Michel Moore, right, brief the media at a news conference after a gunman held dozens of people hostage inside a Trader Joe's supermarket before surrendering to police in Los Angeles Saturday, July 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
Unidentified Trader Joe's supermarket employees hug after being evacuated by Los Angeles Police after a gunman barricaded himself inside the store in Los Angeles Saturday, July 21, 2018. Police believe a man involved in a standoff at the Los Angeles supermarket shot his grandmother and girlfriend and then fired at officers during a pursuit before he crashed into a utility pole outside the supermarket and ran inside the store. Hours after he took hostages in the store, the suspect surrendered. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
FILE - In this photo Saturday, July 21, 2018 file photo provided by Christian Monterrosa, Gene Evin Atkins is arrested after evading police and holding dozens of people hostage inside a Trader Joe's supermarket, in Los Angeles. A feud between Atkins and his grandmother over his girlfriend staying at the grandmother's home exploded into violence that ultimately led to him taking people hostage inside the Los Angeles supermarket, a relative said Sunday. (Christian Monterrosa via AP, File)
Security guards bring a Trader Joe's shopping cart back into the parking lot of the supermarket's Los Feliz location, in Los Angeles, Sunday, July 22, 2018. A day earlier, Trader Joe's employee Melyda Corado was shot and killed at the store by a suspect being chased by police. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
A makeshift memorial of flowers, candles and notes grows on the sidewalk outside the Los Feliz Trader Joe's supermarket in Los Angeles, Sunday, July 22, 2018. A day earlier, Trader Joe's employee Melyda Corado was shot and killed at the store by a suspect being chased by police. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
In this photo provided by Christian Monterrosa, a Trader Joe's employee, right, hugs her loved after a gunman held dozens of people hostage inside a Trader Joe's supermarket before handcuffing himself and surrendering to police, Saturday, July 21, 2018, in Los Angeles. (Christian Monterrosa via AP)

LOS ANGELES — A feud between a man and his grandmother over his girlfriend staying at the grandmother's home exploded into violence that ultimately led to him taking dozens of people hostage inside a Los Angeles supermarket, a relative said Sunday.

Investigators believe Gene Evin Atkins, 28, shot his grandmother several times and wounded his girlfriend at their South Los Angeles home on Saturday afternoon before he led police on a chase, while exchanging gunfire with officers, crashed into a pole outside the Trader Joe's in the city's Silver Lake section and ran inside.

Atkins was booked Sunday on suspicion of murder after an employee was killed as he ran into the supermarket, police said.

His cousin, Charlene Egland, told The Associated Press that he had been arguing with his grandmother — who had raised him since he was 7 years old — "on and off for about two or three weeks" over his girlfriend staying at the elderly woman's home.

"She didn't want the girl over there anymore," Egland said.

On Saturday, Atkins' grandmother, Mary Elizabeth Madison, 76, was walking back into the home and told her grandson "he needs to turn some of them TVs off" when he shot her, she said.

Egland said she heard about six gunshots before another cousin came running from the porch and shouted to Egland, "I think Gene shot my mama!"

The girlfriend was grazed in the head, police said.

Egland said she ran to call 911 and waited for an ambulance to arrive. At the same time, police said Atkins stole his grandmother's car and forced his girlfriend into the vehicle.

Officers tracked the car using a stolen-vehicle tracking system and tried to stop the man in Hollywood, but he refused to pull over, police said. During the chase, he fired at officers, shooting out the back window of his car.

More gunfire ensued before Atkins crashed into a pole outside the supermarket. The man exchanged gunfire with police again and that's when a 27-year-old Trader Joe's employee, Melyda Corado, was shot and killed, Police Chief Michel Moore said. Officers escorted the girlfriend from the vehicle.

Customers and employees frantically dove for cover and barricaded themselves inside storerooms and bathrooms as bullets fired by police shattered the store's glass doors.

As he heard gunfire, Sean Gerace, who was working in the back of the supermarket, grabbed several of his co-workers and the group made their way into an upstairs storage area. He grabbed a folding ladder and tossed it out a window, helping his colleagues escape to safety, he told KNBC-TV.

"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 the SWAT officer," Gerace told the television station.

About three hours later, Atkins — who had been shot in the left arm — agreed to handcuff himself and walked out the front door, surrounded by four of the hostages. He was being held on $2 million bail Sunday and it wasn't clear if he had an attorney to comment on the allegations.

A gun was found in the store, police said.

A 22-year-old woman was wounded by glass fragments and later took herself to a hospital, police said.

The Fire Department took six people to hospitals for non-life threatening conditions or injuries, police said.

Atkins' grandmother initially was taken to a hospital in critical condition and police said she had been shot seven times but Egland, who visited Madison at the hospital on Sunday, said she had only been shot three times, had undergone surgery and her condition was improving.

Atkins, who has two daughters, bounced between several jobs, including working as a security guard, but had been repeatedly fired, Egland said. His license to work as a security guard expired in November 2017, according to state records. It was not clear whether the particular license he possessed would have allowed him to legally carry a firearm.

His grandmother had also tried to help him find employment and "was just trying to make him do better," Egland said.

Atkins never grew violent toward his grandmother before, Egland said, but she started to grow concerned about him over the last several weeks because he seemed upset and distant.

"He didn't seem right to me," Egland said. "I'm just devastated."

On Sunday, grieving family members, co-workers and customers remembered Corado, the Trader Joe's worker, as lively, hardworking and always smiling. A makeshift memorial of flowers, candles and notes grew on the sidewalk outside of the store on Sunday.

"I'm sad to say she didn't make it. My baby sister. My world," her brother, Albert Corado said on Twitter.

Trader Joe's said the store — known by customers as a neighborhood hangout with great customer service — would remain closed for the foreseeable future to give their employees time to process and grieve.

"Yesterday marks the saddest day in Trader Joe's history as we mourn the loss of one our own," company spokeswoman Kenya Friend-Daniel said in a statement. "Our thoughts are with her family, and our Crew Members and customers who experienced this terrifying and unimaginable ordeal."

___

Associated Press writers Christopher Weber and Robert Jablon contributed to this report.

Must Read

Former Somali refugee poised to win office in...

Aug 10, 2016

A former refugee is poised to become the country's first Somali-American legislator after winning a...

US: 45,000 Islamic State fighters taken off...

Aug 10, 2016

A top U.S. commander says that the military campaigns against the Islamic State group in Iraq and...

Air Force struggles with fighter pilot shortage...

Aug 10, 2016

Air Force officials say they have a shortage of 700 fighter pilots, even as the U.S. battles in...

'MacGyver' update won't be gun-free zone; more...

Aug 11, 2016

A CBS remake of the 1980s series "MacGyver" will still have the hero relying on his wit, not...

WHY IT MATTERS: All will be touched by choice in...

Aug 11, 2016

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump offer voters distinct choices this fall on issues that shape...

Sign up now!

About Us

In The Headline sought to bring professionalism back into journalism, bringing you only the most exclusive and the most impactive news from all over the globe.

Contact us: sales[at]intheheadline.com