A lengthy standoff at an illegal pot shop in Tarzana where officers were responding to reports of an armed robbery with possible hostages on Monday ended with four suspects escaping and no captives found, officials said.
Officers initially responded to the unlicensed dispensary within a strip mall at 18340 Ventura Blvd. shortly after 1:30 p.m., Los Angeles Police Lt. Chris Ramirez said.
Footage from the scene showed a massive law enforcement response, with a SWAT team and armored vehicles blocking Ventura Boulevard between Etiwanda Avenue and Reseda Boulevard from motorists.
As of about 2:10 p.m., four robbery suspects had remained inside the business, Officer Jeff Lee said.
One woman who works near the dispensary said she heard the robbers demanding money and weed, and it sounded like they had Russian accents.
"I thought I was going to die, because the walls are thin," said the woman, who asked to remain anonymous out of concern for her safety. "They can just easily shoot, and I'm in the next room over."
She said she hid under a table in her office with a coworker for about an hour before they both ran for their lives.
After that police arrived and began escorting civilians from the building. Footage showed at least one man being taken away in handcuffs, but officials later said that person was ruled out as a suspect and released.
After 6:30 p.m., authorities obtained a search warrant for the dispensary and made entry. But they didn't find anyone inside — suspects or hostages, Sgt. Hector Guzman said.
However, detectives remained at the scene after 10 p.m. processing evidence amid an ongoing robbery investigation.
Police are searching for four suspects: two black men and "two male others," according to Lt. Chris Ramirez. They are also searching for a woman to determine what, if any, role she may have played.
Correction: A previous version of this story contained an inaccurate description of a man being handcuffed by police.
KTLA's Meghan McMonigle and Matt Phillips contributed to this report.
LAPD West Valley Division has the area of Ventura Blvd and Etiwanda Avenue contained for a possible take-over robbery of a marijuana dispensary with a possible hostage. Please avoid the area until further notice.
— Sean Dinse (@LAPDSLODinse) October 22, 2018
#LAPD: Please avoid the area around Ventura Bl & Etiwanda Ave.. Heavy police presence due to an armed robbery investigation. Our SWAT Team is on-scene and a Public Information Officer (PIO) is enroute. Media staging is at Reseda Bl & Ventura Bl
— LAPD HQ (@LAPDHQ) October 22, 2018