A woman who stabbed and wounded four people in a busy Target store Monday afternoon was arrested when an off-duty sheriff’s deputy pulled his gun and ordered the woman to the ground as screaming shoppers ran from the building, authorities said.
Layla Trawick used a butcher’s knife and a carving knife to attack the victims, using both blades at the same time — one in each hand — and slashing in a downward arc like in the movie “Psycho,” sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore said.
“She was literally walking up and down the aisles slashing people,” he said.
A mother holding her baby was stabbed in the neck and was taken to the hospital, where she was in stable condition, Whitmore said. The baby was unhurt and all four victims were expected to survive.
One witness said she was shopping for a Mother’s Day card when she heard someone screaming, “There is no witness protection program!” as chaos broke out in the store.
“I don’t know what it means but she was yelling that repeatedly and at the top of her lungs,” said Katy Winn, a freelance photographer from West Hollywood. “I think I heard (the deputy) telling her to drop to the floor. That’s when things got really chaotic and started falling over.”
Winn said she dropped her basket and dashed across the store to the women’s section, where she hid behind the clothing racks.
“From the moment the screaming started it was about five minutes. But it felt longer than that,” she said.
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Clay Grant Jr., said he was picking up paper towels and other items when people around him started running and screaming.
Grant, 26, grabbed his duty weapon, identified himself as a sheriff’s deputy and ordered the woman to drop the knives, he said. She ran away and he followed her from aisle to aisle.
Grant was wearing a white T-shirt, camouflage shorts and running shoes so several shoppers mistook him for a gunman, adding to the sense of panic, sheriff’s Sgt. Josh Mankini said.
Grant followed Trawick from aisle to aisle, until she turned and waved the knives at him from above her head, he said.
But he decided not to shoot because he didn’t feel his life was in jeopardy, he said. For a second time, he ordered her to drop the knives and finally she complied.
“I was more concerned about the knife, more than what she was saying,” Grant said. “Her facial expression was someone who was lost, confused, didn’t know exactly where they were.”
Trawick was arrested with the help of private security guards and held on $1 million bail on suspicion of attempted murder. Investigators were trying to determine whether the 34-year-old Antioch woman got the knives in the store.
Speaking to reporters at a sheriff’s station later, Grant was modest. “I don’t feel like I’m a hero, I just do what I’m trained to do,” he said. Whitmore said surveillance video cameras captured the stabbings, but the tape hasn’t been released. “If he wasn’t there, who knows? Someone would be dead right now,” Mankini said. “He had no communication with outside law enforcement. He’s just some guy doing his shopping. We’re pretty proud of him.”
Mankini said Grant, a five-year veteran of the department, was authorized to have a weapon in the store.