The boutique was flooded with hundreds of looters, who pulled drawers and closets from store shelves
An eyewitness accounts from an associate who saw an unfolding riot at a California luxury department store, which included looters in ski masks and ladders, reports that workers and shoppers are being held hostage by looters with crowbars and weapons.
Police are diverting traffic and using tear gas to clear a part of Los Angeles’ Robertson Boulevard after the upscale Nordstrom department store, the victim of an earlier burglary on Saturday night, was ransacked by a group of at least 80 looters on Sunday, the witness added.
Nordstrom retails products under designer labels such as Prada, Louis Vuitton and Armani, is in the heart of West Hollywood, another beach town notable for its celebrity residents and thriving arts scene.
An employee at the 4th Avenue shop reported the looting to authorities, telling them: “Things are out of control”, but the police were too far away to come close, according to a local reporter with KPCC.
The store is located in the same strip of streets as Echo Park, a neighborhood in the city that has a reputation for crime.
The disturbance was shocking but not surprising after the incident on Saturday night, said Diana Cohen, a long-time resident who has lived in Echo Park for 35 years and who helped the upscale Haute Hippie boutique to recover from its own street robbery in February.
“It’s all happening here,” Cohen said. “It happens everywhere in Echo Park – someone thinks something’s worth stealing and they go around it.
“The fear is that they have to make a decision who they trust and who they can’t trust. Do you trust the police? Do you trust the criminals? Do you trust each other?”
She blames the current culture of youthful criminality and social media stardom as the reasons behind the violence, and not her own demographic.
“All of these people are committing crimes, they’re posting them on Instagram and they’re bragging about them on Twitter,” she said. “You can see, from people I know, that a lot of people have no respect for other people.
People leave flowers in support of victims of a riot at the upscale Nordstrom department store, in West Hollywood, Los Angeles. Photograph: Sandra E Johnston/EPA
“Now the narcissists have gone even further. They had a store that was open. They knew they were starting a riot.”
On Sunday afternoon, nine Los Angeles police officers on foot patrol told a packed crowd of about 150 people in the area of the shop’s exit: “We’re here to control the crowd, but in no way is it safe for you to be around here,” according to the local ABC affiliate.
Police on Sunday afternoon were told by store employees to clear the area, according to a local TV reporter.
“The crowd was not cooperating with the order,” the reporter said.