The gunman allegedly behind Saturday’s deadly Trader Joe’s standoff in Los Angeles had been feuding with his grandmother over the fact that his girlfriend was shacking up with them inside her home, a relative says.
“She didn’t want the girl over there anymore,” cousin Charlene Egland told the Associated Press.
Gene Evin Atkins, 28, had been arguing with his grandmother “on and off for about two or three weeks” before things allegedly came to a head Saturday, according to Egland.
Investigators believe Atkins was at her South LA home with his girlfriend when he attempted to kill the 76-year-old, identified by cops as Mary Elizabeth Madison.
“Something triggered his mind and he just shot her,” Egland told the LA Times on Sunday.
“It’s just devastating. I can’t believe it,” she said, noting how Madison “raised him.”
Egland was at the home when Atkins allegedly shot his grandmother, and recalled what the great-grandmother told him right before he pulled the trigger.
“He needs to turn some of them TVs off,” Madison said, according to Egland.
She told the AP that she heard six gunshots before another cousin came running from outside, shouting: “I think Gene shot my mama!”
Atkins, who has two daughters, wound up shooting his girlfriend as well before forcing her into a vehicle and kidnapping her, cops said.
Authorities later caught up to him in Hollywood — using stolen-vehicle technology — and exchanged gunfire with him during a car chase. Atkins eventually crashed the vehicle near a Trader Joe’s in Silver Lake, where his hours-long standoff with police occurred. He allegedly shot and killed a store employee during the chaos before eventually giving himself up.
According to police records, Atkins had several run-ins with the law before his alleged breakdown Saturday.
He was arrested on suspicion of vandalism in 2008 and also slapped with a temporary restraining order in 2010 — at the request of his grandmother — but it was later dismissed.
Atkins’s grandmother had taken him at a young age due to an apparent drug addiction his mother had, according to Egland.
His father got sent to prison when he was only 8 years old, she said.
“Whenever he got into something, she’d go to his rescue,” Egland explained. “That’s why I can’t even believe what he did to her.”
Atkins reportedly was bouncing between jobs and had been only dating his girlfriend for several months.
“He didn’t seem right to me,” Egland said. “I’m just devastated.”
With Post wires