Some had no way of getting ahold of their loved ones.
"I was just praying. I was just praying," said Anna Avilez, who described the agony of waiting to hear if her child, an employee at the store, was OK.
Silver Lake Trader Joe's hostage situation: 1 dead, suspect in custody
At a family reunification center set up temporarily at the Northeast Station along San Fernando Road, the Los Angeles Police Department greeted more than a dozen friends and family worried about hostages inside the store.
A man told Eyewitness News his best friend's daughter died in the incident. He went to the reunification center for more information.
The victim was later identified by family members as Melyda Corado, who was an employee at the supermarket. An LAPD source said she was the store manager.
I’m sad to say she didn’t make it. My baby sister. My world. I appreciate the retweets and the love. Please respect my family’s privacy as we are still coming to terms with this. #TraderJoes #SilverLake— Albert Corado (@digitalurn) July 22, 2018
Others inside the center took solace together.
Avilez's daughter didn't have her cellphone with her, so watching the news was her only resource for information.
"But I know she is safe because I did see her on a news clip. I was able to see her face," she shared. "She was smart enough to hear what she heard, and she ran out through the back."
What her daughter heard was gunshots. They were sounds she wouldn't have heard if she hadn't taken the afternoon shift, which she normally doesn't work, her mom said.
Throughout the three-hour ordeal, officers led customers and anyone else in harm's way to safety.
It was the quick-thinking that saved at least this mother's 26-year-old.
"I know the character my daughter has," Avilez said. "She's strong, she's wise, she's quick and she knew what she had to do."