Two gunmen who took 14 hostages at a Los Angeles mall last night have apparently escaped after an overnight standoff that involved the LAPD SWAT team locking down the mall and holding around 200 moviegoers in theaters until nearly 3 a.m. All 14 employees who were trapped in the Nordstrom Rack where the hostage situation unfolded have been found safe; KTLA reports that the LAPD is saying the suspects are still at large.
Details are still forthcoming, but the standoff seems to have begun inside the Nordstrom Rack at the Promenade at Howard Hughes Centerr, in Westchester, on Thursday night after two armed robbers entered the store. Freelance journalist Pamela Chelin, among the best sources of news during the events last night, writes that LAPD is now describing all 14 rescued Nordstrom employees as hostages, and that the police were called around 10 p.m., and the hostages were led into the bathroom around half an hour later:
Just got off phone w/Lieutenant in charge of Media Relations. Andy Neiman. He said there were 14 hostages, 13 females & 1 male.— Pamela Chelin (@PamelaChelin) January 11, 2013
Lieutenant Andy Neiman says it appears, for now, all hostages are store employees.— Pamela Chelin (@PamelaChelin) January 11, 2013
Lieutenant Andy Neiman says that police got the call at around 10pm that 2 armed suspects came into the store.— Pamela Chelin (@PamelaChelin) January 11, 2013
I am hearing reports that there may have been injuries but I can't confirm. #HostageSituation— Pamela Chelin (@PamelaChelin) January 11, 2013
LAScanner, a Twitter account following the LAPD police scanner, documented the deployment and arrival of LAPD and SWAT:
Since the mall was closed, the only civilians left in the complex were all seeing movies at the Rave theater one floor above the Nordstrom, and arriving officers quickly locked it down. Buzzfeed Entertainment's Richard Rushfield interviewed one of the trapped audience members:
@buzzfeedent I'm nervous and many other people are too. Not much info is given but there is a hostage situation. Movies are being replayed.— Simeon Campbell (@Simisim04) January 11, 2013
@buzzfeedent A mixture of both. But most of us just want to go home.— Simeon Campbell (@Simisim04) January 11, 2013
@buzzfeedent In one it is Zero Dark Thirty and the one I'm in is Gangster Squad.— Simeon Campbell (@Simisim04) January 11, 2013
Details from the police scanner about nordstroms scene is very grim.This is going to be an ugly story when it can be told— BuzzFeedEntmnt (@BuzzFeedEnt) January 11, 2013
Looks like its all over.But not a happy ending— BuzzFeedEntmnt (@BuzzFeedEnt) January 11, 2013
Rumors are floating of bad injuries,
but nothing has been confirmed. Update: Chelin has spoken with LAPD Lieutenant Andy Neiman and confirmed that one victim was stabbed, sustaining a non-threatening wound, and one was sexually assaulted. According to the Los Angeles Times, the hostage was stabbed in the neck, and another was pistol-whipped. We'll update as we know more.