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Hostage Situation Reported At Nordstrom Rack At Howard Hughes Center In Westchester

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Fri, Jan 11, 2013 at 1:47 PM

click to enlarge Police outside the Hughes' Promenade. - @RUSSELLCSTEVENS / TWITTER
  • @RussellCStevens / Twitter
  • Police outside the Hughes' Promenade.
Latest info is at the bottom: Police confirm a sexual assault and stabbing. 14 victims were led to safety. Headline has changed. First posted at 11:55 p.m. Thursday

A hostage situation was underway at The Promenade at Howard Hughes Center near Westchester, police told LA Weekly.

Details were sketchy, and the officer we spoke to said most of the authorities in-the-know were at a command post at the mall. But the Twitter user @LAScanner has been tracking police radio broadcasts and has published these possibilities:

A robbery at Nordstrom Rack at the Promenade went sideways and a woman was taken hostage. @LAScanner says two suspects escaped in an SUV but that two others were holding a woman inside the store.
View Larger Map The Twitter user says an LAPD SWAT team has been called to the location. We'll give you more info as it becomes available.
click to enlarge Police at the Rave Cinemas at the Hughes' Promenade. - @JACKJSHEEHAN
  • @jackjsheehan
  • Police at the Rave Cinemas at the Hughes' Promenade.
[Update at 1:11 a.m. Friday]: Police tell us the initial call, a report of a robbery in progress at the Nordstrom Rack, was fielded by authorities at 11:08 p.m. Twitter reports from @LAScanner and Venice 311 indicate that, as SWAT members descended on the area, moviegoers at the Promenade's Rave Cinemas who had watched the LAPD true-story film Gangster Squad had been stuck inside as officers tried to keep them out of harm's way.
click to enlarge SHOOTSEAN / INSTAGRAM
  • shootsean / Instagram
[Added at 1:55 a.m., Friday]: A few of the Twitter users listening to police radio traffic report that the hostage might have been ordered by the suspects to strip down and might at this point just be wearing underwear. [Added at 3:30 a.m., Friday]: Police announced that its "tactical operation" was over shortly after 3:15 a.m. According to an LAPD radio traffic stream posted by Venice 311 someone hiding in a bathroom at the back of the store dialed 911 and reported that 14 employees were inside. Cops said one person had been stabbed in the neck and indicated it was possible that another had been sexually assaulted. The bad guys might have put them in the bathroom on purpose. It appeared from the radio traffic that SWAT officers had the victims exit the bathroom with their hands up. Sometime after 3, a witness reported hearing loud explosions, possibly the beginning of the end as cops swarmed the store. [Added at 3:48 a.m. Friday]: A Culver City police sergeant told us some of his officers were called into to help out. Asked to verify a report that a possible getaway vehicle was recovered by his department, the official said he couldn't comment. [Update at 4:12 a.m. Friday]: KTLA News this morning indicated that the people in the bathroom were the source of the hostage-situation report, though it didn't appear to us that they were being held at gunpoint. In fact, as the station says, it appears the suspect, described as two gunmen, were gone when SWAT team members swarmed the store. What about the one woman thought to be a hostage? We'll try to find out. [Update at 4:24 a.m. Friday]: Police this morning gave the Weekly this account: It all started for them when a loved one of one of the victims called authorities to say a man with a gun was seen inside the store. When the first officers arrived they saw a suspicious man with a woman inside the store. He quickly changed direction and apparently took her toward the back. That's when cops called in a SWAT team, which surrounded the retailer. When SWAT team members made entry this morning they found 13 or 14 people in a back storage room. That suspicious man was not found and is still considered a suspect cops are looking for. Cops still consider what happened a hostage situation since the folks in the back were essentially there against their will, with a possible gunman in the store. As far as a sexual assault and stabbing happening, the official couldn't shed light on those reports. [Update at 4:38 a.m. Friday]: LAPD Lt. Andy Neiman told KTLA News' Lynette Romero that cops initially might have seen two suspects:
Upon the officers initial arrival ... the first unit on scene observed a male ... exiting the Nordstrom Rack. As soon as he saw the police he ran inside the store. Moments later they saw a second individual coming out of the store in the company of a woman. He grabbed that woman and forced her back inside the store.
He said 14 "hostages" were found in a storage room and a bathroom. He said the ones in the storage room had been forced inside by a suspect or suspects: The ones in the bathroom might have just been hiding. About 200 moviegoers were "sheltered in place" as police searched the entire mall. The bad guy or guys got away, at least for now. Neiman:
At this point we don't believe the suspects are here.
[Added at 4:48 a.m. Friday]: Neiman, who's at the scene. told the Weekly that the search for suspects is essentially over:
SWAT concluded the search of Nordstrom and adjacent areas and concluded they don't believe suspects are at the location here.
He said police were now focused on interviewing the 14 victims to determine if any information gleaned from them can lead to the bad guys. Those folks had been ushered into a separate building where police were talking to them, he said. Neiman said he didn't have any information on possible injuries. [Added at 5:01 a.m. Friday]: ABC Eyewitness News says a white SUV believed to be a possible getaway vehicle was found by cops at Washington Place and Globe Avenue in Culver City. (That's right near Tito's Tacos).
View Larger Map The station also says investigators at the Promenade were viewing security video to get a better look at the suspects. [Update at 1:47 p.m. Friday]: Police this afternoon confirmed that a woman was sexually assaulted and another person was stabbed in the robbery. The stabbing victim was treated at the scene and released, LAPD Officer Christopher No told us. All 14 victims worked at the store, he said. The retailer closed at 10 o.m. so the violence appears to have started after-hours. The two suspects had at least one gun and a knife, according to No. The LAPD is looking into the discovery of a possible getaway vehicle in Culver City (see above) but whether or not that SUV is connected has yet to be confirmed, the officer said. [@dennisjromero / djromero@laweekly.com / @LAWeeklyNews]

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