Cousin: Deadly hostage incident sparked by feud with grandmother
by Les Sillars
Posted 7/23/18, 11:20 am
A man’s feud with his grandmother that turned into a deadly hostage situation at a Trader Joe’s supermarket in Los Angeles may have been brewing for weeks, relatives said Sunday. Authorities have charged Gene Evin Atkins, 28, on suspicion of murder.
The violence began Saturday when Atkins allegedly shot his 76-year-old grandmother several times at their south Los Angeles home after she complained he had too many television sets on, said a cousin, Charlene Egland. She added that Atkins and his grandmother had argued for weeks over his girlfriend, who was staying at their home. Atkins allegedly forced his girlfriend, who had been grazed in the head by a bullet, into his grandmother’s car and fled. A stolen-car device helped police track the car to Hollywood but Atkins refused to pull over, police said, and fired out the car’s back window before crashing into a pole outside the Trader Joe’s. During a shootout with police, customers and employees frantically dove for cover and barricaded themselves inside storerooms and restrooms. A Trader Joe’s employee, Melyda Corado, 27, was shot to death during the gunfight, witnesses said. Atkins held dozens hostage but surrendered after a three-hour standoff. The grandmother, Mary Elizabeth Madison, is recovering in a Los Angeles hospital.
Read more from The Sift Sign up for The Sift email
Les is a WORLD Radio correspondent and commentator. He previously spent two decades as WORLD Magazine's Mailbag editor. Les directs the journalism program at Patrick Henry College and resides in Purcellville, Va., with his family.