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:
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:
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.