LAPD investigating officer’s actions in Costco shooting

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Los Angeles Police Department is gathering evidence and video footage in an administrative investigation into an off-duty officer who shot and killed a man authorities say attacked him inside a Southern California Costco Wholesale warehouse store.

Authorities remained tight-lipped Sunday, not responding to requests for comment about what provoked the Friday night confrontation and whether anyone but the officer was armed. Two others were critically injured in the shooting in Corona, which is about 40 miles (64 kilometers) east of Los Angeles.

Los Angeles Police Commission President Steve Soboroff said Sunday it is Chief Michel Moore’s decision whether to put the officer on leave, but it remained unclear if that happened. The officer’s identity has not been released.

The officer opened fire after Kenneth French, 32, of Riverside, “assaulted” him “without provocation” as the officer held his young child, Corona police said Saturday.

Bullets struck French and two of his family members, according to police. The officer was the only person who fired shots in the store, police said.

The officer was treated and released at a nearby hospital. The officer’s child was not injured, the department said.

The department’s policies allow off-duty officers to carry concealed weapons as long as they are authorized for on-duty use, according to the LAPD manual.

The LAPD will continue its internal probe as Corona police and the Riverside County district attorney’s office conduct a separate investigation into the shooting. The LAPD said Sunday it had no further information. Corona police and the district attorney’s office did not respond to requests for comment Sunday.

A relative of French’s reached on Facebook declined to comment Sunday and asked for privacy.

Joseph Giacalone, a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and a retired New York City Police Department sergeant, said it’s justifiable to use deadly force even in a crowded store if the attacker has a weapon.

“If the guy pulled out a pocketknife and approaches him, game over,” Giacalone said Sunday.

Police have not said if French had any weapons or if the officer identified himself as police before firing.

Giacalone said video footage from Costco’s cameras and shoppers’ cellphones will be critical to the dual investigations.

While it’s not unusual for police to delay releasing information such as an officer’s name in a shooting for safety reasons, Giacalone said it’s important to get details out as quickly as possible.

“People start filling in the timelines for you” in the meantime, he said.

The shooting prompted a stampede of frightened shoppers, some who fled the store as others sought cover inside.

Witnesses reported seeing an argument between two people near a freezer section when shots rang out at least six times. The Costco reopened later Saturday.

1. EMPLOYEES ENJOY PLENTY OF BENEFITS

Costco now sets its minimum wage for hourly employees at $14 an hour. That’s in addition to offering benefits like healthcare for all employees, regardless of part-time vs. full-time status.

While I was at Costco, they gave employees complimentary memberships to the store. Each employee also got a free turkey to enjoy with their families on Thanksgiving. And to top things off, Costco paid employees time and a half just for working on Sundays.

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2. COSTCO IS A GREAT DESTINATION FOR HEALTH FOOD

People who haven’t shopped at warehouse clubs might expect the “buy in bulk” mentality to mean the aisles are lined with junk food. While Costco does sell things like cookies and candy bars, there are plenty of healthy options, if that’s what you’re looking for. Greek yogurt, coconut water, protein powder, and lean meats are just some of the things that line the shelves at Costco. And the produce section is filled with delicious apples, bananas, berries, salads and more.

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3. IT’S NOT JUST FOR BIG FAMILIES, EITHER

When I tell friends I still shop at Costco, they don’t understand what my husband and I buy there, since we don’t have kids and live in a small New York apartment. But there are plenty of options for any family size, and it doesn’t mean you have to keep ten spare jars of tomato sauce in your pantry. Things like Kirkland Signature protein bars and olive oil are shelf stable for our small household. Cleaning supplies like kitchen sponges are sold in reasonably sized packages, too. It just depends what you’re looking for—but there’s no one demographic that’s more suited to shop there. These Costco shopping tips will save you a ton.

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4. COSTCO’S PIZZA IS THE REAL DEAL

If you find yourself eating at Costco’s food court, you’ll probably be pleasantly surprised by how great the food is. The pizzas are baked fresh in store with Kirkland Signature ingredients, and they don’t skimp on cheese and other toppings. The hot dog combo—just $1.50 for a hot dog and a soda—is also superb. The food court even offers fresh diced onions, in addition to mustard and ketchup, to top your dog. 

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5. PEOPLE REALLY DO BUY THAT FAMOUS GIANT BEAR

The giant teddy may seem like an Internet novelty, and plenty of people (myself included) have stopped to take photos with the 8-foot-tall friend. But I saw more than one person buy the giant stuffed animal—usually grandparents purchasing it as a gift for their grandkids. (I do wonder how they stuffed it into a car/cab to get home.)

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6. YOU CAN GO TO THE PHARMACY AS A NON-MEMBER

If you live near Costco and want to pick up your prescriptions there, you can do so without buying an annual membership to the club. But don’t think you can pull a fast one on the employee checking membership cards at the entrance—you can’t check out at Costco without a membership in your name. 

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7. COSTCO IS SELLING BLUE APRON MEAL KITS

I didn’t learn this one working at Costco—it’s a new initiative—but if you’re looking to save time on meal prep, this is worth knowing about. A handful of Costco stores on the West Coast are selling the Blue Apron kits, which make weeknight dinner prep way easier. Don’t miss the details! Plus, check out even more insider secrets Costco employees won’t tell you.

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