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Hostage standoff ends peacefully at Burlington Coat Factory

June 14, 2012 | 11:15 am

Police interview witnesses after hostage standoff at Inglewood Burlington Coat Factory

Three suspected robbers surrendered to police Thursday morning after locking themselves inside a Burlington Coat Factory with at least a half-dozen employees.

An employee at the store at 3150 W. Imperial Highway called 911 about 7:10 a.m. when the ski mask-wearing suspects attempted a robbery, said Lt. Neal Cochran of the Inglewood Police Department.

Some of the employees, believed to be part of a cleaning crew working before the store opened at 10 a.m., managed to run out of the store, Cochran said. Others remained inside with the suspected robbers.

Officers called for a SWAT team as other law enforcement agencies, including the Hawthorne Police Department, arrived on scene. Negotiators were able to make contact with the suspected robbers via phone by about 8:30 a.m.

At one point, KTLA-TV reported, the suspected robbers told police they were ready to surrender but could not open the store's locked glass doors. Video from TV helicopters overheard showed a man kicking at the doors to no avail.

Eventually, police broke a glass panel in the door, allowing the hostages and suspected robbers to leave. About 10 people methodically walked out of the store. Each was handcuffed and interviewed as officers determined who the three suspected robbers were.

No injuries were reported, Cochran said, and the store was cleared about 9:30 a.m. The SWAT team planned to sweep the building to ensure no one remained inside.


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Photo: Two of the women taken hostage at the Burlington Coat Factory in Inglewood are comforted by others while police interview the witneesses. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times