LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A man accused of engaging in a running gun battle with police, leading to the shooting death of an assistant manager at a Trader Joe's in Silver Lake who was struck by an LAPD officer's bullet, is scheduled to be arraigned today on murder and other charges.
Gene Evin Atkins, 28, is charged with the July 21 killing of Melyda Corado, 27, even though he did not fire the shot that struck her. Under state law, he was charged with her killing because he allegedly set off the chain of events that led to her death.
Atkins allegedly shot his 76-year-old grandmother, Mary Elizabeth Madison, as many as seven times and shot a 17-year-old girl around 1:30 p.m. 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 in which Atkins fired shots at pursuing officers through the rear window of the Camry, according to Los Angeles police Chief Michel Moore. A short time later, Atkins crashed into a light pole outside the Trader Joe's in the 2700 block of Hyperion Avenue.
Atkins got out of the car and ran into the market, allegedly shooting at pursuing officers, who returned fire, striking the suspect in an arm but also hitting Corado, who had walked to the front entrance of the store when the car crash occurred, Moore said.
Atkins holed up inside the store for about three hours, holding multiple shoppers and store employees hostage, police said. Several hostages were released during the standoff, and Atkins eventually walked out and surrendered.
Atkins is facing 31 felony charges. In addition to murder, Atkins was also charged with four counts each of attempted murder of a peace officer and assault on a peace officer with a semiautomatic firearm, along with 13 counts of false imprisonment of a hostage.
The other counts against him include fleeing a pursuing peace officer's motor vehicle while driving recklessly, grand theft of an automobile, driving or taking a vehicle without consent, discharge of a firearm with gross negligence, shooting at an occupied motor vehicle and assault with a firearm.
He remains jailed on nearly $19 million bail.
He could face a life prison sentence if convicted as charged, according to the District Attorney's Office.
The Trader Joe's store remained closed for nearly two weeks after the shooting, reopening Aug. 2.
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