A feud between a Los Angeles man and his grandmother apparently sparked a rage that led him to flee from police and later hold hostages inside a Trader Joe’s store on Saturday, authorities say.
FOX News reports that the suspect, identified as 28-year-old Gene Atkins, reportedly argued with his 76-year-old grandmother, Mary Elizabeth Madison, for several weeks about his girlfriend living in the home with him. According to police, Madison wanted the girlfriend to leave her home.
The suspect’s cousin, Charlene Egland, said that Atkins and Madison had been arguing “on and off for about two or three weeks” about the girlfriend staying in the grandmother’s home. While the grandmother didn’t want her there anymore for reasons unknown, Atkins grew increasingly upset with his grandmother.
Shortly before the suspect allegedly stole Madison’s Toyota Camry and led police on a chase, he shot her several times as she walked back into her residence and told him “to turn some of them TVs off.” Egland, who was nearby when the incident occurred, said she heard around six shots. Madison was later rushed to the hospital with seven gunshot wounds, according to police. Her condition is currently stable.
New: Charleo Egland talks about her cousin, Gene Atkins, accused of shooting his grandmother and holding hostages at Trader Joe’s in Silver Lake. Egland believes he was mentally ill and told her: “The next thing I do, I’m going to die doing it or I’m going to go to jail.” @NBCLA pic.twitter.com/ej2DtoZOL6
— Gene Kang (@GeneNBCLA) July 22, 2018
Egland told police that Madison took Atkins in when he was a child, after his parents had issues with drugs. His father was sent to prison when Atkins was an 8-year-old.
“Whenever he got into something, she’d go to his rescue,” Egland said, according to the New York Post. “That’s why I can’t even believe what he did to her.”
As CrimeOnline previously reported, Akins led police on a chase starting in South L.A. The suspect apparently crashed his car into the Trader Joe’s off of Hyperion Avenue, opened fire at the officers following him, the rushed inside the store. Atkins’ girlfriend suffered from a graze wound from a bullet to her head. She’s said to be in stable condition.
Several people climbed out of windows and down ladders to escape, while others ran to a nearby business to hide. CBS News reports that a terrified father said he was separated from his children and feared they may still be inside the store.
Atkins walked out peacefully on Saturday night without incident, after he placed handcuffs on himself on exited the store.
CBS Los Angeles reports that after a little over four hours, hostages began walking out of the store and seem to be uninjured. However, police discovered a gravely injured female who was pronounced dead shortly after. Police reported earlier that the female victim was OK when pulled out of the store, but apparently has succumbed to her injuries.
The female was identified as the store manager, 27-year-old Melyda Corado.
Authorities stated the victim was shot during the initial moments when the suspect rushed into the store, during the exchange of gunfire between the suspect and officers.
According to police, Atkins had a shotgun wound on his left arm. Earlier reports indicated that the suspect was in his late teens, but authorities confirmed he’s 28 years old.
A young boy, wheeled out in a gurney in the sitting position, hugged and reunited with a family member. Other hostages followed out, waving at local reporters to assure them they were OK.
The story continues to develop. Check back with CrimeOnline as additional details become available.
[Feature Photo: AP/Damian Dovarganes]