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UPDATED: LA mall reopens as police investigate hostage assault in Nordstrom Rack robbery

NBC Los Angeles

Los Angeles police officers patrol outside the Nordstrom Rack store in Westchester where a woman was being held hostage by a pair of armed men, Friday, Jan. 11, 2013.

Nordstrom Robbery Hostage Los Angeles

NBC LA

LAPD officers escort people from a Nordstrom Rack following in Los Angeles.


UPDATE 5:34 p.m.: You can listen to audio from a police scanner with more details from last night's event here, thanks to Venice 311.

UPDATE 4:56 p.m.: Part of the Promenade mall at Howard Hughes Center in Westchester has now reopened to patrons, apart from the Nordstrom Rack store that was the scene of a hostage-taking, assaults and a knifing during a robbery overnight, Los Angeles police said.

Lt. Gus Villanueva, a spokesman for the LAPD, told KPCC that a movie theater above the Nordstrom Rack store may reopen around 5:30 p.m., but that police would continue to have a presence there throughout the evening. The theater was locked down overnight while police sought suspects in the case.

—Erika Aguilar

UPDATE 12:30 p.m.: It's a late start to the workday  for most employees with offices and jobs at the Promenade at the Howard Hughes Center in Westchester as police continue to keep the shopping mall shut down.

"Well we came to work, but they didn't let us," said Janet Garcia. She's been trying since 5 a.m.to get into a restaurant at the shopping mall to clean it.

Around 10 a.m., police were telling workers that it could be another five hours before the area is reopened.

"It's surprising to something like that happening here, so close where I work at nights," Garcia said.

LAPD detectives continue to gather evidence from the Thursday night hostage situation that began around 11 p.m. inside the Nordstrom Rack store.

"We received a 911 call from a caller who stated that his wife or girlfriend was an employee inside the Nordstrom Rack," said Lt. Andy Neiman. "She advised him to call 911 because two armed suspects had just walked into the door."

Neiman says a white SUV was found parked in Culver City around 2 a.m. that matched the description of a car police believe was used to speed away from the crime scene Thursday night. They're trying to determine whether it's connected to the crime. Investigators found some items in and around the vehicle, but he wouldn't comment further about the items found.

"This mall has quite an extensive security system here as well as Nordstrom Rack, and  we're hopeful we'll have some good information that we can glean from that," Neiman said.

— Erika Aguilar

EARLIER: Police say some of the 14 workers held hostage overnight during a robbery at a Los Angeles clothing store were assaulted, and one was stabbed.

Police Lt. Andy Neiman says the stabbed worker was treated for a non-life threatening wound at the scene.

He says another worker was sexually assaulted and others were manhandled during the four-hour standoff at a Nordstrom Rack store near LAX.

At least two robbers are being sought.

The ordeal began around 11 p.m. Thursday and ended around 3 a.m. Friday when a SWAT team entered the store but found no robbers. The stores were closed at the time, but moviegoers at a theater in the complex were sheltered in place as a precaution

Police are also trying to determine whether a car found in neighboring Culver City was the getaway vehicle. The hostages — 13 women and a man — were being questioned.

The southbound lanes of the 405 Freeway, leading to Los Angeles International Airport, were temporarily shutdown at the Howard Hughes Parkway off-ramp, NBC LA reported. By midnight, the lanes had been reopened though the exit appeared to remain cordoned off.

This story has been updated.

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