Fourteen department store employees have been rescued by a Los Angeles SWAT team after a four-hour armed robbery hostage drama inside a Nordstrom Rack department store, a police spokesman said Friday.

The two robbers have escaped despite an extensive search of the department store.

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Nordstom Rack employees at a Los Angeles store were held hostage Friday by two robbers who later escaped. (Nordstrom)

The employees — 13 women and a man — were being questioned.

One of the workers held hostage was sexually assaulted, one was treated for a non-life threatening wound, and others were manhandled, said Police Lt. Andy Neiman.

The robbery was first reported around 11 p.m. Thursday, one hour after the Nordstrom Rack closed.

"That call was generated by an individual who claimed his wife or girlfriend … had called him saying, 'Call the police. Two armed suspects just came in our store with guns,'" Neiman said. 

'That call was generated by an individual who claimed his wife or girlfriend … had called him saying, "Call the police. Two armed suspects just came in our store with guns."' —Lt. Andy Neiman

Police officers and special weapons teams swarmed the mall. Stores were closed, but moviegoers at a theater in the complex were sheltered in place as a precaution, the lieutenant said.

Just after 3 a.m., SWAT team members entered the Nordstrom Rack and found some employees locked in storage area and others hiding in a bathroom, Neiman said.

It's unclear when the suspects escaped.

Police are trying to determine whether a car found in neighboring Culver City was the getaway vehicle.

The southbound Howard Hughes Parkway freeway off-ramp was shut down during the hostage drama.

The Promenade is an outdoor shopping center with stores, restaurants and a theater complex. The Nordstrom Rack store is on the second floor of the complex.