LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A public funeral and celebration of life service was held today for Melyda Corado, the 27-year-old Trader Joe's assistant manager who was killed in the crossfire of a gunbattle between police and an attempted-murder suspect who fled into her store, sparking a three-hour hostage situation.
“Thank you to everyone who has shown their love and support during this immensely difficult time,” Corado's brother, Albert, wrote on his Twitter page. “My family and I are heartbroken, but are so grateful for everyone's generosity in helping us cope with the loss of my sister.”
The 10 a.m. funeral service was held at Forest Lawn Memorial Park Hollywood Hills. Albert Corado said the public was welcome to attend.
Albert Corado, Mely's father told the crowd, “When your mother died you become an orphan. When you wife died you become a widower. But when you daughter dies there are no words.”
Later, choking back tears, the distraught father remembered a time when Mely was younger and sick and had just lost her mother who died.
“She started crying and said I want my mommy. I know exactly that pain because I want my baby.”
Mely's brother, Albert Jr. saluted his sister's strength.
“Mely was always the person I went to in a crisis. So right now I feel a little lost.”
Albert Jr. also said his sister really helped him when their mother died.
“When my mother died, Mely really stepped up. she was everything to me. I feel like I lost my heart.”
One of Mely's female co-workers paid tribute to the slain woman.
“Mely loved deeply, honestly and without reservation. She made Trader Joe's a better place every day.”
And Mely's best firend, Rochela, told the mourners, “Mely said her life's mission was to work as hard as she could so her family never had to again.”
Mely was also saluted as an activist, who fervently campaigned for women's and human rights in Los Angeles.
At least one Trader Joe's, the store in Toluca Lake, closed today so staff could attend Mely's funeral.
Melyda Corado was killed at 3:30 p.m. July 21 when a man suspected of shooting his grandmother and girlfriend in South Los Angeles crashed a car in front of the Trader Joe's market at the end of a police chase and fled inside, allegedly while exchanging gunfire with pursuing officers.
Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore said Corado was struck by a bullet fired by a police officer at the suspect, 28-year-old Gene Evin Atkins. Even though he did not fire the bullet that killed Corado, Atkins has been charged with her murder, under the theory he set off the chain of events that led to her death.
The two officers were identified Friday as Sinlen Tse and Sarah Winans, both of the Hollywood Patrol Division, according to an LAPD news release.
Moore said the two officers -- one a six-year veteran, the other a two- year veteran -- fired a total of eight shots in return. One of them struck Atkins in the left arm, but he continued running inside. Another struck Corado, traveling through her arm and into her body, Moore said. The woman managed to stumble back inside the store after being shot, collapsing behind the manager's station.
She was carried out of the business by others in the store, but paramedics were unable to save her. Moore called the death a “tragic loss.'
Friday's LAPD release did not clarify the tenure and circumstance for each officer.
Atkins allegedly shot his 76-year-old grandmother, Mary Elizabeth Madison, as many as seven times and shot a 17-year-old girl at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 21 at his grandmother's South Los Angeles home in the 1600 block of East 32nd Street. He then allegedly kidnapped the teenager and drove off in his grandmother's 2015 Toyota Camry. Police spotted him in Hollywood, sparking a chase during which Atkins fired shots at pursuing officers through the rear window of the Camry, Moore said. A short time later, Atkins crashed into a light pole outside the Trader Joe's in the 2700 block of Hyperion Avenue.
“As Atkins exited his vehicle, witnesses reported they observed Atkins shoot at the officers,” Moore told reporters. “The officers exited their vehicle and returned fire as Atkins ran towards the entrance of Trader Joe's.”
Atkins sustained a gunshot wound to his left forearm, but no officers were injured.
A memorial of flowers, balloons and signs has been growing outside the Silver Lake Trader Joe's store since Melyda Corado's death, and signs of tribute and support have been posted at other stores as well.
A GoFundMe page set up to benefit the family had raised more than $39,000 as of Friday.