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Police to offer new details on Nordstrom Rack takeover robbery

January 14, 2013 |  8:01 am

Los Angeles police plan to release more details at 11 a.m. Monday about the arrest of three suspected gang members in the takeover robbery last week at Nordstrom Rack in Westchester, in which 14 hostages were held.

One man was arrested Friday and a man and woman were arrested Saturday in Phoenix, said sources familiar with the investigation. Officials plan to speak about the case at police headquarters Monday morning.

Sources familiar with the investigation described the man arrested in Phoenix as a principal suspect but would give no further details. Police have not yet release the suspects’ identities, nor would they detail how they were taken into custody or their alleged roles in the robbery and hostage situation.

Sources said they had strong evidence linking the men to the crime, including physical evidence and security camera video. Prosecutors will decide this week whether to file charges.

The incident began about 11 p.m. Thursday at the Promenade at Howard Hughes Center, near the 405 Freeway. The LAPD called a tactical alert and closed off the area around the shopping center. When the police department's SWAT officers arrived, they surrounded the store.

At one point, one suspect exited, saw the police and ran back inside. A second suspect walked out with an unidentified woman, saw police and also headed back inside. The officers entered the store at 3:30 a.m. and freed the hostages.

At least three of the hostages were injured, including one woman who was sexually assaulted. Another woman was stabbed in the neck and sustained non-life-threatening injuries, and a third employee was pistol-whipped, police said.

It was unclear whether the robbers hid in the store or gained entrance after it closed. It was also not clear precisely how long they remained in the store before fleeing, and police would not say how much cash was taken in the robbery. At least two employees hid in the restroom, LAPD officials said.

The rest of the group was herded into a storage room by the robbers, except for one woman who was taken separately and sexually assaulted, police said.

To help identify the suspects, LAPD Robbery-Homicide detectives conducted numerous witness interviews and examined surveillance video from inside and outside the Nordstrom Rack, as well as from surrounding businesses.

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-- Andrew Blankstein

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