By Frederick H. Lowe
The gunman shot his grandmother eight times and his girlfriend once before fleeing the home he shared with them in his grandmother’s car.
During his brief getaway, he crashed the car into a light pole near a Trader Joe’s store in Los Angeles’ Silver Lake neighborhood. He ran inside the store while exchanging gunfire with police. Customers and store employees hit the floor, hid, or ran out. Some climbed down a ladder from the second floor to escape and others barricaded themselves inside available store rooms.
That’s when things got a little weird. A witness described the gunman, later identified as Gene Atkins, with adjectives I wasn’t used to hearing to describe black men, particularly those being pursued by the police.
“He’s a good-looking black man with Dreadlocks, and he’s buffed,” the witness told CNN on live TV.
I was watching television with my wife, Susan. ‘Did I hear that right?’ I asked her, seeking confirmation. Susan said, ‘yes, you heard it!’
During the confusion, Melyda Corado, a 27- year-old store employee was killed. Los Angeles police said at a later news conference she was shot to death by a police officer as she walked into the store’s parking lot. Some are outraged thar police fired their guns in a store filled with customers and employees.
Atkins, 28, asked for handcuffs. He put them on before surrendering to police.
He is being held on a bond of $18.8 million. Atkins is charged with 30 crimes, including suspicion of murder. Police are blaming him for Corado’s death.
Atkins and his grandmother got into a violent argument over his girlfriend living in the grandmother’s house.
Atkins’ grandmother was hospitalized and is in critical condition; his girlfriend suffered a flesh wound.