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Two men held in Nordstrom Rack robbery, hostage taking

January 13, 2013 |  5:11 pm

Los Angeles police have arrested two men on suspicion of carrying out a brazen robbery at the Nordstrom Rack in Westchester and holding 14 employees hostage last week, sources familiar with the investigation told The Times.

The LAPD released few details other than to confirm that they had arrested the suspects, one on Friday morning and another at a Phoenix motel Saturday. Police would not release the identities of the suspects, nor would they detail how the suspects were taken into custody or their exact roles in the robbery and hostage drama.

Sources said they had strong evidence linking the men to the crime but would not elaborate. Prosecutors will decide this week whether to file charges.

The incident began around 11 p.m. Thursday night at the Promenade at Howard Hughes Center, near the 405 Freeway. The LAPD had called a tactical alert and closed off the area around the shopping center.

When the Los Angeles Police Department's SWAT officers arrived, they surrounded the store. At one point, one of the suspects 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 14 hostages.

At least three of the 14 hostages were injured, including one woman who was sexually assaulted. Another woman was stabbed in the neck with non-life-threatening injuries and a third employee was pistol-whipped, police said.

It was unclear whether the two suspects hid in the store or somehow 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 suspects, 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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