A brave Trader Joe’s worker helped his coworkers escape out of a back window during a terrifying hours-long hostage situation, according to a report.
Sean Gerace was working in the backroom of the Los Angeles supermarket on Saturday when he heard shrieks and gunfire, he told NBC Los Angeles.
The fast-thinking worker grabbed a couple of his colleagues and quickly led them into a storage area, he recounted.
Wow! Bravo to this #TraderJoes crew member Sean. He heard the shots, barricaded himself and some co-workers upstairs, grabbed the window ladder and helped many of his co-workers get out. You can see him in the picture below. #SilverLake @NBCLA pic.twitter.com/2co6JqVhCY
— Kenny Holmes (@KHOLMESlive) July 22, 2018
“I grabbed an emergency ladder, barricaded the hallway… put the ladder out the window and just tried to get the attention of a SWAT officer,” he said.
Heavily armed officers in riot gear had surrounded the grocery store after a shooting suspect cops were chasing crashed his car into a utility pole outside of it and barged in, taking dozens of people inside hostage — and allegedly killing the store’s manager, Melyda Corado, 27,
Gerace and several of his coworkers were able to get down the ladder to safety, he said.
During the tense three-hour standoff, the still-unidentified 28-year-old suspect allowed some of the hostage, including young children, to leave.
“A slow steady stream of people who had hidden and were helped by LAPD to escape or people who were released by the hostage taker [were seen leaving the store],” LA Mayor Eric Garcetti said.
The gunman finally surrendered at around 6:30 p.m., after negotiators convinced him to handcuff himself and walk out with four hostages.
Video posted by ABC showed the store’s sliding door open and the group walking out slowly with their hands raised above their heads — as cops moved in to grab the deranged gunman.
Hours before the standoff, the man had allegedly shot his grandmother close to seven times, then jumped into a car with his girlfriend, who he’d also shot, before leading police on the car chase.
“He said he would start killing us if he didn’t get to talk to his granny,” Lynne Westafer, a CBS2 News/KCAL9 News promo producer told KCAL. “And he would start counting down from five — and that was terrifying.”
“There were moments of total terror,” she continued. “He loved the power and he was going to milk the situation.”