Employee sexually assaulted, another stabbed after armed L.A. robbery

The four-hour standoff at Nordstrom Rack clothing store also stranded movie-goers in nearby theater

POSTED: 12:45 PM PST Jan 30, 2013    UPDATED: 04:45 AM PST Jan 11, 2013 

Police say some of the fourteen 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.
He says another worker was sexually assaulted and others were manhandled during the four-hour standoff at a Nordstrom Rack store at Howard Hughes Center in Westchester.
At least two robbers are being sought.

The robbery was first reported just after 10 p.m. On Thursday by a loved one of a store employee. The employee reportedly said two men had entered the store and were armed with guns.

Arriving officers saw a man leaving the store with a woman and then forced her back inside the clothing store when he spotted officers. It's still not clear if the woman was a customer or store employee.

"Around 3:30 a.m., a SWAT team entered the store and let out 14 people, all believed to be either customers or employees, who had been in a storage
room in the rear of the store,"  said Lt. Andy Neiman, a Los Angeles Police Department spokesman. "All of them were in good condition and were being interviewed by investigators to make sure the suspects were not among them," he said.

Police were also in the process of evacuating people who were stranded inside a cinema at the shopping center while the crisis played out. They had been sheltering in place with police protection, Neiman said.

A white SUV with two people inside was seen leaving the shopping center parking lot around the time the robbery was reported, but it was unclear if those inside were involved with the crime, Neiman said.

At least three SWAT trucks were on hand, a news photographer reported from the scene.

The nearby Howard Hughes Parkway offramp from the southbound San Diego 405 Freeway was closed due to the police activity, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The Promenade is an outdoor shopping center with stores, eateries, a miniature golf course and a cinema multiplex. The Nordstrom Rack store, one of more than 100 across the nation serving as a clearance outlet for the upscale department store, is on the second floor of the complex, according to the center's website.

The shopping center is expected to operate normally today, police said.

Written by Alex Batres, Morning Anchor / Reporter KESQ.  You can reach Alex at Alex.Batres@kesq.com.