A 42-year-old female clerk at a South Los Angeles Big Lots store was shot during an armed robbery that occurred during a brief struggle with the gunman Tuesday afternoon, police said.
The robbery took place about 2 p.m. at the store at West Slauson and Western avenues, in the Harvard Park neighborhood, police said.
A black man between 40 and 50 years old pulled out a firearm after milling about the store for a few minutes, then approached a cashier from behind, proceeding to rob the store, said Los Angeles Police Department Detective Jerry Gibson of 77th Street Division.
During the robbery, there was a "brief struggle" that prompted the man to fire multiple times at the 42-year-old clerk, hitting her multiple times, Gibson said.
She was hospitalized and released from surgery in stable condition, according to the detective.
It was not clear whether she was trying to prevent the robbery or if she even knew the robber had a gun, Gibson said.
“He was reaching into the cash register. ... She had her hand on top of that drawer. What her intention was, I can’t say, but I can say the suspect didn’t just easily remove the money," Gibson said. “To be honest with you, I don’t know why he fired the gun."
The man may have felt he wasn't getting the money as quickly as he wanted, the detective said. The clerk, Gibson said, "was not attacking him in any manner.”
During the struggle, the clerk's cash drawer fell to the ground. Surveillance video showed the robber take money directly out of the drawer before fleeing, Gibson said.
A witness who heard the gunshots while sitting in his car told KTLA the clerk had just clocked in about 10 minutes before being shot. The witness, who gave his name only as Andrew, said he saw the victim lying on the floor and the shooter flee in a black SUV.
Police said no description of the vehicle was available.
The gunman was described as of medium height and medium build.