A hostage situation at a Los Angeles-area mall ended early Friday morning after one victim had been sexually assaulted and another stabbed in the neck. Despite the injuries, police say they believe the primary goal was a robbery.
According to police, two gunmen entered Nordstrom Rack at the Promenade at Howard Hughes Center mall Thursday night and took hostages to a storage room.
Around 3:30 a.m., Los Angeles Police Department’s SWAT team entered the building and freed 14 hostages that were held in the storage room. The suspects escaped the scene with an unknown amount of money.
The victims were being interview by police Friday morning to shed light on the incident. A 911 call was made around 11 p.m. after a woman had seen two armed men enter the store. An officer also had seen a man exit the store, only to run back in after seeing the officer, which raised suspicions.
Officers had the store surrounded around midnight, but the gunmen had been able to flee before the SWAT team entered the building to rescue the hostages.
According to Reuters:
At the height of the police response, there were dozens of officers at the scene and it was unclear how the two suspects evaded police while fleeing the store.
"If the suspects are there when SWAT gets there, it's pretty unusual for them to get away," Neiman said. But he added that the mall is large with a lot of access points.
"It's possible that they eluded or exited the building prior to us establishing a complete perimeter," he said.
According to police, the stabbing victim’s wound is not life-threatening and none of the other victims were seriously harmed.