Two gunmen are still at large after terrorizing a Los Angeles shopping mall, reportedly taking at least 14 hostages in a Nordstrom Rack store just after closing time Thursday night.
Police responded to the Howard Hughes shopping center around 10 p.m. after a Nordstrom Rack employee called her boyfriend and reported that two gunman had entered the store. LAPD Lt. Andy Neiman told KTLA that when officers arrived they saw a man leave the store, make eye contact with police, then run back inside.
Another man then came out with a woman, “looked in the officers’ direction, grabbed that female and forced her back into the location,” Neiman said.
A SWAT team responded to the scene, closing off the area and putting the mall movie theater in lockdown. The cinema, where moviegoers watched “Gangster Squad” and “Zero Dark Thirty” on replay, was the only part of the mall where customers were still at risk. The rest of the building had already cleared because stores had closed.
The Los Angeles Times reported that one of the female hostages was sexually assaulted and another was stabbed in the neck, although her injuries were not considered life threatening. Of the 14 hostages, 13 were female and one was male, all were retrieved safely after the SWAT team was able to enter the store at approximately 3:30 a.m. A third hostage was reportedly pistol-whipped.
The hostage who was allegedly sexually assaulted was led into a separate room about a half an hour into the incident. The rest were found together in a storage area. Lt. Neiman told the San Jose Mercury News some of the employees had minor injuries, “probably because they had been manhandled or pushed away by the assailants.”
No robbers were found at the scene but they did make away with an undisclosed sum of money, authorities said. Police said they were investigating a possible getaway vehicle in nearby Culver City. KTLA also reported witnesses claimed to see a white SUV speeding away from the mall.