Fourteen People Freed After Being Held Hostage at Westchester Mall: LAPD

By Ryan Bourgard, Samantha Tata and Kevin LaBeach
|  Friday, Jan 11, 2013  |  Updated 6:39 AM PDT
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14 Freed After Mall Hostage Situation

Los Angeles police officers patrol outside the Nordstrom Rack store in Westchester where a woman was being held hostage by a pair of armed men, according to authorities.

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At least 14 people were escorted from a Nordstrom Rack store early Friday at a Westchester mall after an LAPD SWAT unit entered the businesses.

Updated Article: Victims Stabbed, Sexually Assaulted

Gunmen held the hostages in a storage area before the early morning operation, according to LAPD spokesman Andy Neiman. The hostages were being interviewed early Friday morning to determine what happened before 10 p.m. Thursday night, when LAPD officers from the Pacific Division received a 911 call from a man who said his girlfriend saw two armed men enter the store.

An officer on the scene then witnessed a man coming of the store who then ran back inside.

"That heightened officer's suspicion that something wasn't right," said Neiman.

The officers later saw another man grab a woman, and he also and ran back into the store as well. That's when officers knew they had a possible robbery in progress and a tactical alert was issued. 

By 11:45 p.m., additional units were called to the scene, including LAPD SWAT officers who surrounded the Nordstrom Rack, located on the second floor of the Promenade at Howard Hughes Center (map). A long search was conducted.

Shortly after 2:00 a.m., SWAT officers found 13 women and one man holed up inside a storage room and a bathroom. They were escorted out of the store and questioned by authorities. 

No word if any of the people held by the men were injured, and it is also not clear what the men were armed with, police said. The promenade closes at 9 p.m. on Thursdays, according to its website.

Paralleling the mall, the southbound lanes of the 405 Freeway were temporarily shutdown at the Howard Hughes Parkway off-ramp. By midnight, the lanes had been reopened though the exit appeared to remain cordoned off.

For a full update on this story, tune in to Today in LA at 4:30, 5 and 6 a.m. Friday.


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