In July 2018, unsuspecting shoppers at a Trader Joe’s in Silver Lake, California, were shocked when a gunman entered the store and held them hostage. CBS News’ ‘48 Hours: Standoff at Trader Joe’s’ delves into the circumstances surrounding what led Gene Atkins to go on a rampage allegedly and the terrifying ordeal everyone involved went through. So, if you’re wondering what happened to Gene after that fateful afternoon, we’ve got you covered.
Who is Gene Atkins?
Gene Atkins was about 28 years old when the incident occurred. He lived with his grandmother, Mary Madison, in South Los Angeles, California. There was an argument between the two at around 1:30 PM on July 21, 2018, because Mary wasn’t happy about Gene not looking for a job and spending time with his girlfriend in his room. The authorities believed the argument turned deadly when Gene shot his grandmother seven times and his 17-year-old girlfriend, who suffered a graze wound to her head.
Then, Gene forced his girlfriend into Mary’s car and took off. The authorities then tracked the vehicle through anti-theft software and caught up to him. While they tried to stop Gene in Hollywood, California, he didn’t pull over and later opened fire on the officers. Gene shattered his rear window in the process and then crashed into a pole outside Trader Joe’s in Silver Lake.
Gene then got out of the car and ran towards the store, firing at the police. Two officers shot back at Gene, hitting him in the elbow. However, in the process, a bystander was fatally shot as well. One of the police bullets hit Melyda Corado, a 27-year-old who worked as a manager at Trader Joe’s. She was leaving the store when she was hit in the chest. Gene made it inside and then proceeded to shoot at the police three more times.
Gene barricaded himself and about 40 people were present inside. The police surrounded the place and had hostage negotiators establish contact with Gene. He stayed in the front of the store, holding about five people hostage. While Gene had some demands, the negotiators eventually talked him down. He handcuffed himself and walked out with the hostages, with the situation ending at around 6:30 PM.
Through family, the authorities later learned that Gene lived with his grandmother, who raised him since he was seven years old. According to his cousin, Charlene Egland, Gene had prior run-ins with the police, but Mary still took care of him. Charlene also mentioned that he was previously arrested for vandalism and had once robbed her daughter at gunpoint. In the days leading up to the incident, Gene was reported to have lost his job and two cars. According to Charlene, he told her daughter, “I’m either gonna die and go to hell, or I’m gonna kill somebody.”
Where is Gene Atkins Now?
Gene was taken into custody the same day as the incident. He faced more than 50 counts that included murder, attempted murder, false imprisonment of hostages, grand theft, and assault with a firearm. In February 2020, the court ruled Gene would be examined to check if he was mentally competent to stand trial. He was previously diagnosed with bipolar disorder and a host of other illnesses.
According to Gene’s grandmother, he was in therapy when he was nine years old for anger issues. In February 2019, Gene claimed he was a prophet sent by Jesus. Ultimately, he was ruled competent to stand trial in May 2021, with his deposition being scheduled in March 2022. Furthermore, Gene contended that he didn’t use his firearm outside the store in a letter to Melyda’s family’s lawyers, who had filed a wrongful death suit against the city and the police officers. For now, he remains in police custody in Los Angeles, California, awaiting trial.
Read More: Where Are the Trader Joe’s Survivors Today?