SILVER LAKE (CBSLA) — KCAL9 Employee Lynne Westafer was at the wrong place at the wrong time Saturday when she found herself a hostage inside the Trader Joe’s in Silver Lake.
She recounted her story during the KCAL9 News at 8 p.m. and was still clearly shaken by the ordeal.
Westafer spoke for about 20 minutes and related the fear and fright many inside were feeling.
She also said the suspect asked to speak to his grandmother “several” times. Westafer and those inside the store were not aware the man had allegedly shot his grandmother seven times.
“He said he would start killing us if he didn’t get to talk to his granny,” Westafer says. “And he would start counting down from five — and that was terrifying.”
After she was let go, she told KCAL9’s Peter Daut and Suzanne Margues that she felt the situation was completely surreal.
She didn’t think anything bad was going to happen because the suspect would say he didn’t want to hurt anyone — “until it would escalate. And then it got scary.”
Westafer said, “I’m feeling a little rattled but I’m fine.”
The victim, she said, was apparently a recently-promoted manager in the store. And employees in the store were visibly upset at watching her get shot.
“They were just so devastated,” Westafer said, “Everyone loved her. They’re destroyed. She was in her late 20s. It’s heartbreaking. I can’t even tell you how upset they are.”
The suspect asked for handcuffs before he would come out. He believed police couldn’t shoot him if he was handcuffed when he surrendered.
“I will not speak to the logic of that,” Westafer says. “He wanted to give himself up and he didn’t want to put his gun down either.”
When she wasn’t scared she was mostly upset over the ordeal.
“I thought what a jerk,” and she added, “I’m mostly angry, I’m still furious. There were moments of total terror. He loved the power and he was going to milk the situation.”