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Before LA Standoff, a Feud With Grandma Over Girlfriend

Trader Joe's hostage situation stemmed from domestic situation: suspect's cousin
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 23, 2018 2:33 AM CDT
An unidentified woman is helped by paramedics at a triage area after a gunman held dozens of people hostage inside a Trader Joe's store in Los Angeles Saturday, July 21, 2018.   (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
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(Newser) – A feud between a man and his grandmother over his girlfriend staying at the grandmother's home exploded into violence that ultimately led to him taking dozens of people hostage inside a Los Angeles supermarket, a relative said Sunday. Investigators believe Gene Evin Atkins, 28, shot his grandmother several times and wounded his girlfriend at their South Los Angeles home on Saturday afternoon before he led police on a chase, while exchanging gunfire with officers, then crashed into a pole outside the Trader Joe's in the Silver Lake section and ran inside. Atkins was booked Sunday on suspicion of murder after an employee was killed as he ran into the supermarket, police said. His cousin, Charlene Egland, told the AP that he 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. "She didn't want the girl over there anymore," Egland said.

On Saturday, Atkins' grandmother, Mary Elizabeth Madison, 76, was walking back into the home and told her grandson "he needs to turn some of them TVs off" when he shot her, she 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. Officers tracked the car using a stolen-vehicle tracking system and tried to stop the man in Hollywood, but he refused to pull over, police said. During the chase, he fired at officers, shooting out the back window of his car. More gunfire ensued before Atkins crashed into a pole outside the supermarket. He exchanged gunfire with police again and that's when a 27-year-old Trader Joe's employee, Melyda Corado, was shot and killed, Police Chief Michel Moore said. The AP has more on the three-hour ordeal.

(Read more murder stories.)

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