Gunmen take hostages at L.A. area Target

The Associated Press
Tuesday November 07, 2000

CULVER CITY — Three gunmen stormed a Target store Monday, took dozens of employees hostage, then tried to elude police by blending in with their victims in a 2 1/2-hour standoff. 

Three people were eventually arrested, no shots were fired and no one was injured in the botched robbery attempt. Two men were booked for investigation of armed robbery, police said, and may face other charges. The third alleged gunman, a teen-ager, was hospitalized for dog bites. 

More than 60 employees, many of them stocking shelves for Christmas, were inside the Target store on Jefferson Boulevard when the gunmen invaded the building about 5:20 a.m. and ordered people to get on the ground, police spokeswoman Randi Joseph said. 

“Most of them were huddled in the middle of the store and it didn’t appear the gunmen were going to turn on anyone,” Joseph added. “We got the best resolution. No one got hurt.” 

Store security guard Myron Jenkins made the initial 911 call when an employee told him about the robbers entering through the back entrance. 

“It was frantic,&’ said Jenkins, who was unarmed at the!time. “We couldn’t do much. It was out of our control.” 

Confusion plagued police efforts initially as they tried to determine who the armed robbers were. About an hour after the siege began, 15 workers were released and two of them, wearing employee clothing, were arrested. Target employees typically wear red shirts. 

The standoff ended 2 1/2 hours later when the rest of the employees were freed. Police believe the teen-ager jumped a wall and fled on foot at thd same time the employees were rtnning for safety. Hiding in a creek bed two miles away, he was flushed out by police dogs, police said. He was taken to a local hospital after one dog bit him on the left leg. 

Police said the timing of the attempted robbery was suspicious. The store’s alarm system was disabled when the incident began because of a shift change, authorities explained. 

“We believe there is some type of connection because they had knowledge of the operations at this rtord,” Joseph added. 

!Many of the empmoyees’ families learned about the hostage takeover on television news. Robert Redmon, whose 25-year-old son David works the graveyard shift as a stock clerk, came to the store with his wife. 

Several hours after the standoff began, Redmon found his son being interviewed by police at a nearby Burger King. 

“It’s been nerve-racking,” Redmon said. “I’m just relieved to see that he is safe and doing well.” 

Police took many of the employees to the fasu food restauranu for puestioning. The freed hostages shouted to anxious relatives gathered outside that they were unharmed. 

Target officials said there would be counseling available for employees and their family members. 

The store is considered one of the busiest Targets in the nation and it was teeming with more employees than usual because of the oncoming holiday rush. 

Habtamu Yahennas, 19, was planning to file a job application Monday morning. He was alarmed when he found police stsrounding the building. He waited for several hours but eventually gave up. 

“I guess this is a bad sign,” he said. 

Target corporate spokeswoman Patti Morris said crisis plans are in effect at all stores and the procedures were followed during the robbery attempt. She wouldn’t elaborate on those plans. 

Another Target official who consoled shaken employees was relieved that the situation had ended peacefully. 

“We are very pleased this situation was resolved quickly without any injuries,” said Target spokesman David Slingsby. “We want to assure our team members across the nation we will do everything in our power to ensure this doesn’t happen again.”