Trader Joe's Shootout Sparks Questions Over Police Response

On Saturday, Gene Atkins, 28, led police on a wild chase from Hollywood to Silver Lake after shooting his grandmother and kidnapping his girlfriend, ultimately ending the chase in a Trader Joe's parking lot. 

Atkins, while armed, ran towards the grocery store while shooting at police. Police and Atkins then began a gun battle that killed the store's manager, Melyda Corado, as she walked outside into the parking lot. 

It is still unknown whether Corado was killed by police gunfire or Atkins.

Atkins ran into the store, keeping the roughly 40 people inside hostage for three hours.  

Now, some people are questioning why the police shot at Atkins in a busy shopping center, risking the lives of those around them. 

"LAPD Chief Michel Moore labeled the situation a “tragedy,” and policing experts said the officers faced a near-impossible decision in which their options ranged only from bad to worse," the LA Times reported

Sid Heal, a retired Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department commander and use-of-force expert, said Atkins was an obvious danger to both the public and responding officers.

“We try to have a clear field of fire, but obviously the suspect has a substantial, even a decisive, advantage if we don’t return fire,” he said. “There is no easy answer.”

According to family members, Atkins had struggled with anger issues as a child and was deeply affected by his mother's death from leukemia in 2014. 

Atkins is being held in lieu of $2 million on suspicion of murder, according to an LAPD spokesman. His grandmother is in the hospital and expected to survive.  

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