Costco customer killed, 3 wounded in failed armored car heist

LOS ANGELES (AP) - One customer was killed and three others were wounded Sunday afternoon during a failed armored car robbery outside a Van Nuys Costco bulk buying store, authorities said.

Officers had one alleged gunman in custody and SWAT and canine units were searching for two others believed to be carrying automatic weapons.

No other arrests had been made four hours after the shooting.

Wounds to customers were not considered life-threatening, Lt. Jim Grayson said. Fire officials said four other people were treated for minor injuries.

Shooting began about 3 p.m., shortly after an armored car pulled up at the San Fernando Valley store, at Victory and Sepulveda boulevards.

An armored car guard who had gone inside to retrieve the money was exiting Costco when he was approached by a man who demanded the money. Gunfire erupted between the man and the guard, but police have not determined who fired first, Grayson said.

A second gunman who also was part of the crowd in the Costco food court immediately outside the store also began shooting as the guard raced into the armored car for protection. The guard was not wounded, police said.

The three then fled in a white van with police pursuing. The van stopped several blocks from the store where police captured one man who was taken to an area hospital. That man was shot in the leg by an armored car guard.

All the victims were Costco customers shot outside the store.

''It all happened really fast. It was loud,'' customer Carlos Barboza said. ''I saw one guy carrying a machine gun, and he was turning around shooting at people left and right.''

Barboza said he saw one man shot in the head, another shot in the back and a woman shot in the leg.

''At first it started at odd intervals, then ... it was like bang, bang, bang,'' said Chris Forbess, a mechanic at a nearby Pep Boys store. ''They were shooting as fast as they can.''

The robbers failed to get any money.


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