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Suspected robber kills self inside store after 5-hour standoff

An armed man who barricaded himself inside a wireless store within a Southern California shopping center for hours after he allegedly robbed a nearby business has taken his own life, authorities said.

After a nearly six-hour standoff, tactical team entered a Connect Wireless store Friday night to find the man "deceased apparently by his own hand," the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Crescenta Valley Station said in a tweet.

No shots were fired by authorities on scene, the department added.

Officials received a report of a man with a gun about 4 p.m. at The Marketplace Shopper Center (map), located in the 2600 block of Foothill Boulevard in La Crescenta. News broke shortly before 10 p.m. that the barricaded man had died.

The owner of Connect Wireless told NBC4 two of her employees were inside the store when the man entered and threatened to take them hostage, but the workers ran out the front door the first chance they could.

No hostages were taken, a spokesperson for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Crescenta Valley Station said.

The situation unfolded inside The Marketplace Shopping Center, which also houses a Ralphs, Rite Aid, U.S. Bank and Starbucks, among other shops. Shoppers were seen running from Rite Aid and Ralphs Friday evening as authorities slowly evacuated the plaza.

Rite Aid employees told NBC4 a man went into the store's pharmacy, demanded a prescription and showed a gun. When a worker gave the man the pills he asked for, the robber ran from the store.

A 1-block stretch of Foothill Boulevard between Raymond and Rosemont avenues had been closed for the investigation. Sheriff's officials said all streets around the shopping center were reopened about 10:15 p.m.

The chaos developed the day during Black Friday, when consumers were set to take advantage of longer store hours and steep discounts to start the holiday shopping season.

Dozens of cars were in the plaza's parking lot when the situation began. A sheriff’s deputy with a rifle was seen stationed outside the doors of a Ralphs grocery store next door to the wireless store.

It was previously reported that the store involved in the barricade is a Verizon location, but rather, it belongs to Connect Wireless, a third-party vendor that sells Verizon products, according to a Verizon Wireless spokesman.

When the report first came in, everyone in surrounding stores had been ordered to shelter in place. At about 5:30 p.m., the Rite Aid inside the shopping complex was evacuated. Shortly before 7 p.m., the Ralphs was evacuated. By 8 p.m., the center had been emptied and shut down, the sheriff's department said in a tweet.

Members of the sheriff department's Special Enforcement Bureau -- the equivalent of a SWAT team -- responded to the scene. An armored vehicle was stationed outside the Connect Wireless storefront.