After an hours-long standoff at a Trader Joes in Los Angeles, California, many are crediting one employee’s quick thinking for saving the lives of several other coworkers.
Employee Sean Gerace was working in the back room of the store when he heard the alarming sounds of gunshots and screaming coming from the main area of the store.
A man being pursued by police had crashed a car into a pole outside before he burst into the store with a gun.
Some customers managed to run out of the store before he barricaded the door shut and held 40 to 50 customers and employees hostage.
Knowing he couldn’t safely go out into the main area of the store, Gerace grabbed several coworkers and quickly directed them to the storage room upstairs.
From there, Garace blockaded the hallway, grabbed a weapon, and took an emergency ladder to the back of the storage room.
After getting the attention of the SWAT team to make sure it was safe to escape, Gerace helped his coworkers climb down the ladder before they all ran to safety.
“Once I got his attention, I indicated I wanted to go down the ladder, and he gave me a thumbs up,” he explained, according to Business Insider.
It wasn’t until about 6:30 p.m. that the terrifying standoff finally ended. The gunman ultimately handcuffed himself and walked out the front door with four hostages at his side, and police immediately detained him.
Six people between ages 12 to 81 were taken to the hospital, and tragically, one woman had been shot and killed.
The woman, who was identified as 27-year-old Melyda Corado, had recently become the store manager.
Many are now grieving the loss of Corado, who was beloved by both family, friends and coworkers alike.
“They were just so devastated,” employee Lynne Westafer said to Fox News. “Everyone loved her. They’re destroyed. She was in her late 20s. It’s heartbreaking. I can’t even tell you how upset they are.”
But thanks to Gerace’s quick thinking that day, many other lives were spared.
“The heroism that was shown today was second to none and the teams that were able to respond, secure the perimeter and engage in conversation with the suspect no doubt saved lives today,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. “Our hearts go out to everyone who has been traumatized.”
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