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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 22 August 2018

LA gunman arrested after supermarket siege in which one hostage died

Man shot grandmother and girlfriend before on-road gunfight with police

Police officers escort people from a supermarket after surrounding suspected shooter. AFP
Police officers escort people from a supermarket after surrounding suspected shooter. AFP

A woman was shot and killed when a gunman ran into a busy Los Angeles supermarket where he held dozens of people hostage for about three hours on Saturday before handcuffing himself and surrendering to police. No hostages were seriously hurt.

About two hours before taking the hostages, police say the man shot his grandmother seven times and wounded another woman, who he forced into a car. Police chased the vehicle and exchanged gunfire with the man, who crashed into a pole outside the Trader Joe's in the city's Silver Lake section and ran inside.

Frightened customers and workers dove for cover as police bullets fired at the suspect shattered the store's glass doors. Some inside the supermarket climbed out windows and others barricaded themselves in rooms as scores of police and firefighters and 18 ambulances converged on the scene and prepared for mass casualties.

Heavily armed officers in riot gear stood along the side of the store and used mirrors to look inside as hostage negotiators tried to coax the man into freeing his 40 to 50 hostages and surrendering.

At about 6.30pm, the man agreed to handcuff himself and walked out the front door, surrounded by four of the hostages. The unidentified man, who police said is about 28, was immediately taken into custody. Police said he had a wound to his arm.

Mayor Eric Garcetti, who used to live in the neighbourhood and was a regular at Trader Joe's, congratulated police and firefighters for their work and mourned the loss of life.

"The heroism that was shown today was second to none and the teams that were able to respond, secure the perimeter and engage in conversation with the suspect no doubt saved lives today," he said, adding "our hearts go out to everyone who has been traumatised."

Investigators believe the suspect, whose name has not been released, had shot his grandmother and girlfriend around 1.30pm in South Los Angeles and then fled in a 2015 Toyota Camry, said Mike Lopez, a Los Angeles police spokesman.

Officers spotted the suspect's car near Hollywood and tried to pull him over, but the man refused to stop and led officers on a pursuit, Mr Lopez said. During the chase, the suspect shot "multiple rounds" at officers, though no officers were struck by the gunfire, he said.

At least one officer is believed to have returned fire during the pursuit, Mr Lopez said.

The suspect eventually crashed his car outside of the Trader Joe's supermarket..

Officials said they had 18 ambulances and 100 firefighters staged at the scene.

Don Kohles, 91, was walking into the supermarket when he saw a car being chased by police crash into a pole just outside. Police fired at the driver, shattering the store's glass doors. Mr Kohles and others inside took cover and lay down on the floor as the suspect ran into the store, he said.

He could hear others around him sobbing as the man ran toward the back of the store and yell at people, but Kohles said he never heard any more gunshots. After about 30 minutes, police came inside and rushed some of the customers out, he said.

Photos posted on social media showed people trying to exit the supermarket through a window and video from television news helicopters showed others leaving through the front door with their hands up.

President Donald Trump tweeted that he is "watching Los Angeles possible hostage situation very closely" and that Los Angeles police officers were working with federal law enforcement.

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