According to police, a homeless man walked into a downtown Los Angeles Target on Tuesday, picked up a pair of knives from the store’s kitchenware aisle, and stabbed two shoppers, including a child, in an unprovoked and random attack, KTLA reported.
Los Angeles Police received calls regarding the incident around 6:20 p.m. on Tuesday. Two officers, who were already in the downtown shopping complex on an unrelated call, responded to the scene, according to L.A. Police Chief Michel Moore.
Moore stated that the suspect, believed to be around 40 years old, first approached a 9-year-old boy and told him that he was going to “stab him and kill him.” When the boy attempted to flee, the attacker plunged a seven- to eight-inch butcher-style knife into the child’s back.
“(He) confronted him and told the young boy he was going to stab him and kill him,” Moore said. “He repeated that more than once. The young child attempted to flee and leave, ignore him, move away. The suspect without any further provocation suddenly attacked and stabbed this child in the back.”
The suspect then approached a group of women and stabbed a 25-year-old female in the chest, which caused her to fall to the ground, Moore stated. Bystanders grabbed the woman, pulled her into the store’s pharmacy, and shut the security gate behind her.
The attacker then fled to the store’s front entrance, where an armed security guard confronted him.
Michel Lemos, a Target employee who witnessed the altercation, told KABC-TV, “He lunged at security with his knife.”
Police reported that the security guard first attempted to use a baton to subdue the attacker. However, the security guard ultimately fired his gun at the suspect no more than two times, hitting him in the stomach.
The suspect has been pronounced dead.
Authorities reported that the attack was random and the suspect did not know the victims.
The victims were transported to a local hospital. The 9-year-old was reported to be in stable condition, but he may have suffered neurological damage due to the deep stab wounds. The female victim is in serious condition and underwent surgery Tuesday evening.
“Out of nowhere, we heard people screaming,” Kevin Zaragoza, a witness, told KABC-TV. “We rushed to the front. Right there by the exit we see a girl on the floor, blood all over her.”
“After that, we see the whole LAPD swarming in there with shotguns, all types of stuff. It was crazy,” Zaragoza added.
Police remained at the scene all evening, gathering evidence and reviewing security footage.
Moore stated that more needs to be done about the homelessness crisis in Los Angeles.
“Outreach, engagement, services for them by people that are not law enforcement is what is a critical need. And while there’s many resources, we need more,” said Moore.