Four people were held hostage inside the crowded barbecue restaurant

By Maria Coder
Updated September 11, 2015 09:50 AM

An armed carjacking suspect who seized four hostages in a crowded Los Angeles restaurant was shot dead Thursday evening after a SWAT team raided the restaurant. Despite several reports saying that SWAT team members shot him dead, it is not clear whether law enforcement fired the fatal shot, Reuters reports.

At least four people were being held hostage inside Chris’ and Pitt’s barbecue joint in Downey, the Associated Press reports. Los Angeles county sheriff’s Lt. Eddie Hernandez told the AP that the man did not fire at the SWAT team. The suspect, whose name has not been released, was declared dead at the scene.

CBS reported that the suspect fired two shots in the air before running into the restaurant. “We were eating dinner and I just heard a man screaming ‘Get down! Get down!'” patron Stella Aguilera told the outlet. “My daughter was in the bathroom with my little granddaughter, 2 years old. And we all got down I grabbed my baby grandson, and I saw the guy with the gun. And he was asking, ‘I need some medication, just anybody give me medicine.'”

The gunman then shouted that all women and children could leave, Aguilera said, at which point she and many others scurried out.

Police first spotted the gunman when a sheriff’s helicopter got a signal from a stolen Honda Civic, sheriff’s Cmdr. Mike Parker told the AP. The chopper then spotted the man allegedly stealing another car at gunpoint, leading to a high speed chase and a car collision involving the suspect, police said. The suspect was ultimately forced to stop his vehicle, at which point he ran out of the car and into the restaurant, police said.

“This was a very dangerous night for law enforcement and the public,” Parker said.

One person could be seen in handcuffs outside the restaurant during the ordeal but Parker said that was just a precaution until deputies could be sure of the suspect.

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