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Nordstrom Rack hostage ‘scared,’ ‘terrified’ at ordeal, brother says

 Los Angeles police investigators stand outside a Nordstrom Rack store at Howard Hughes Center near Los Angeles International Airport Friday morning after an hours-long hostage drama. Credit: Reed Saxon / Associated Press

Worried friends and relatives of Nordstrom Rack hostages gathered at the Los Angeles Police Department's Pacific station on Friday, waiting for detectives to release their loved ones.

The mother and brother of a 19-year-old female hostage – both of whom are also employees at the Westchester store -- tried to reach the woman about 11 p.m. at the end of her shift Thursday night, but got no answer and assumed she was working late.

"My sister finally called at 3 and asked if we could go get her at the mall," said Irwun, 21, who works at the Rack in customer service. "She was scared. She didn't want to talk about it. She was terrified."

They rushed to the mall but were unable to go in. The store manager told them the store was closed and advised them not to come to work Friday morning. Two men took 14 employees of the store hostage overnight and fled Friday morning. Police freed the hostages around 3:30 a.m.

Late Friday morning, Irwun and his mother, Elin, who asked that their last name not be used, waited anxiously in the police station lobby.

Elin, who spoke in Spanish, said she felt a hole in her chest and was anxious to hold her daughter.

"The theater in the mall is known for fights outside," she said. "I was always afraid something like that would happen [to my daughter] when she worked late, but never this. I never thought something like this would happen.'

Irwun said he has worked at the store for about two years in customer service. His mother has worked there for five years in housekeeping. His 19-year-old sister has worked there for about a year, he said.

As the two waited, Elin sat on a bench in the stark lobby, shaking her right leg and rocking intensely as she wiped away tears.

About 10:30 a.m., Elin's daughter and two other women exited an area marked "Pacific Detectives."

One hostage, a young woman, wrapped herself tightly in a gray fleece blanket as her roommate rushed over and gave her a hug. Irwun and Elin greeted their colleagues with relieved hugs.

Elin clutched her daughter's arm tightly and guided her to their car without speaking.

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--Rosanna Xia

Photo: Los Angeles police investigators stand outside a Nordstrom Rack store at Howard Hughes Center on Friday morning after an hours-long hostage drama. Credit: Reed Saxon / Associated Press

 
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