WESTCHESTER (CBSLA.com) — Authorities are searching for at least two armed robbery suspects after 14 people were held hostage overnight at a Nordstrom Rack in Westchester.
The robbery at the Promenade at Howard Hughes Center was first reported around 11 p.m. Thursday, an hour after the store closed.
“That call was generated by an individual who claimed his wife or girlfriend . . . and that she had called him saying, ‘Call the police. Two armed suspects just came in our store with guns,’” Lt. Andy Neiman told KNX 1070’s Jon Baird.
When officers first arrived on scene, a man outside of the store ran back inside when he saw them.
A short time later, a man leaving the store with a woman spotted officers and forced the woman back inside, Neiman said.
“At that point the officers we’re pretty certain that we had a hostage situation,” he said.
The SWAT Team entered Nordstrom Rack around 2 a.m. Friday and discovered that the suspects had escaped.
A majority of the 14 hostages were found in a locked inside a storage room. The remainder of the victims were found in a restroom.
“We are not sure if they took refuge on their own or were actually secured in there by the assailants,” Lt. Neiman said.
All 14 hostages — 13 women, 1 man — are believed to be store employees.
One hostage was stabbed, but was treated at the scene and released. A female victim was sexually assaulted by one of the suspects, officials said.
All the hostages were being interviewed by detectives with the LAPD Robbery Homicide division.
A suspect description was not available.
Evidence left at the store led police to a second location on Globe Avenue near Washington Place in Culver City where officers recovered a possible getaway vehicle, according to Lt. Nieman.
Approximately 200 moviegoers at a nearby theater were kept inside during the incident.
The Promenade at Howard Hughes opened as normal Friday, however Nordstrom Rack was closed.