July 24 (UPI) -- The Los Angeles Police Department on Tuesday said an officer fired the bullet that killed a Trader Joe's manager during a hostage situation over the weekend.
Assistant manager Melyda Corado, 27, was leaving the store when officers exchanged fire with the gunman, 28-year-old Gene Evin Atkins. She was struck by an officer's bullet, Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore said at a news conference.
The chief added Corado ran back inside the store and collapsed behind the manager's desk. She was later carried out of the store and moved to a point of safety, where she was treated by the Los Angeles Fire Department, but died as a result of the gunshot injury.
"As chief of police, I am sorry for the loss, this tragic loss," Moore said. "I want to express my deepest condolences and sympathy to her family and to everyone who knew her."
LAPD shared body camera and dashcam footage of the shooting "in order to frame the circumstances that these officers found themselves in," Moore said.
The video begins with a male and female officer pursuing Atkins. The female officer declared that she had drawn her gun after shots were fired from Atkins' vehicle.
"Do not, do not shoot," the male officer can be heard responding. "Get distance. We are getting distance."
Atkins crashed his vehicle into a pole outside the grocery store and ran into the building, at which point gunfire can be heard. One of the bullets from this exchange struck Corado and another injured Atkins' arms, Moore said.
Moore added he would wait until an investigation into the incident was complete before determining what consequences, if any, the officers involved in the firefight may face.
"I believe it's what they needed to do in order to defend the people of Los Angeles, defend the people in that store and to defend themselves," Moore said. "I ask that you place yourself in these two officers' positions and ask yourself 'What would you have done?"
He said the officers involved in the incident, who weren't immediately identified Tuesday, were "devastated."
"I know that it is every officer's worst nightmare to harm an innocent bystander during a violent engagement," Moore said. "This is a heartbreaking reminder of the split-second decisions that officers must make every day."
Charles "Sid" Heal, a retired Los Angeles County Sheriff's commander and expert on law enforcement shootings, told the Los Angeles Times the footage of the incident exemplifies the type of decisions officers are forced to make when facing gunfire from a suspect in a public place.
"The suspect created the situation and law enforcement inherited it," Heal said. "The alternative was to surrender the lives of hostages inside the store, plus he could have killed those officers ... you can play the scenario over and over again, but nobody is going to have a better option."
Atkins allegedly shot his grandmother and a young, female acquaintance -- both of whom were in critical condition -- prior to fleeing police and entering the Trader Joe's, where he held dozens of people hostage for nearly 4 hours. He was being held on $9 million bail on 31 charges including murder, kidnapping, fleeing and pursuing a peace officer's vehicle while driving recklessly, grand theft, driving or taking a vehicle without consent, shooting at an occupied vehicle, and assault with a firearm.
He was scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday afternoon.