A man who allegedly shot his grandmother and led police on a chase to a Trader Joe's grocery store where a woman was fatally shot has been arrested on suspicion of murder, authorities said Sunday.
Gene Evin Atkins, 28, was being held Sunday morning on $2 million bail, Officer Drake Madison, a Los Angeles police spokesman, told The Associated Press. It wasn’t clear whether he had an attorney, and a message left at a number listed for Atkins in public records wasn’t immediately returned.
The Los Angeles County coroner also confirmed that the victim was Melyda Corado, 27. An autopsy is pending. Corado was a store manager, according to news reports.
Corado's brother, who posted on Twitter during the standoff that he couldn't reach his sister, later posted that she had died: “I’m sad to say she didn’t make it. My baby sister. My world. I appreciate the retweets and the love. Please respect my family’s privacy as we are still coming to terms with this.”
"She was the person I loved the most in the world. She was never anyone but herself for better or worse, she was herself," Albert Corado said of his sister in an interview with CNN.
The crisis erupted about 1:30 p.m. Saturday when Atkins allegedly shot his grandmother repeatedly and then fled with another woman who was also injured, police said.
His cousin, Charlene Egland, told The Associated Press that Atkins 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.
Atkins’ grandmother, Mary Elizabeth Madison, 76, had been walking back into the home and told her grandson “he needs to turn some of them TVs off” when he shot her, Egland 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.
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.
Police said they used the car's LoJack system to track the vehicle, and then got into a gunfight with the man when they tried to pull the car over. The man crashed the car into a pole outside the Silver Lake Trader Joe's and then ran inside, taking dozens of people hostage.
Helicopter footage showed the tense moments as police rescued hostages from windows and other exits. Officers in SWAT gear ran while carrying children away from the store.
Throughout the ordeal, officers with riot gear, armed with rifles, stood along the side of Trader Joe's and used mirrors to try to look inside as hostages periodically came out the front door with hands raised.
After three hours, negotiators were able to persuade the suspect to come out peacefully, and he walked out alongside four hostages with their hands up.
Contributing: The Associated Press