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Florida hostage situation ends after gunman kills self, authorities say

image
Rescue personnel carry out one of the two young hostages that were released Sunday  

July 24, 2000
Web posted at: 8:43 p.m. EDT (0043 GMT)


In this story:

7 hostages taken initially

Robot had been sent to house

RELATED STORIES, SITES icon



ORLANDO, Florida (CNN) -- Jamie Dean Petron, the gunman who held hostages in a house for three days, shot and killed himself Monday afternoon, police said. One of the hostages, a 40-year-old woman, is also dead.

"We did all we could to bring this to a peaceful solution," said Orange County Sheriff Kevin Beary.

Beary said the woman, Andrea Hall, had apparently suffered a gunshot wound, but authorities do not know whether she was shot by Petron or was killed by a police sharpshooter who fired into the house Sunday.

  AUDIO

Hostage-taker Jamie Dean Petron apologizes to his family in a tape-recorded message

307K/27 sec.
AIFF or WAV sound
 
  MESSAGE BOARD
 

"We don't know, and that's why we've got to investigate it," Beary said. State investigators will also review what happened during the standoff.

Police found Petron's body in the master bedroom and Hall's in the kitchen.

Petron, 41, shot himself in the chest at 3:15 p.m., Beary said, adding that police then removed the remaining two hostages -- Althea Mills, 16, and 9-month-old Daniquea Akoon.

The two were being evaluated by medical personnel. Beary described them as "fine" physically and said they were reunited with family members.

Beary said a SWAT team found Hall's body early Monday morning and then backed out of the four-bedroom house but later re-entered. Petron did not know the SWAT team was in the house while the officers quietly searched the residence for three hours, Sheriff's Capt. Michael Foreman said.

Beary said the SWAT team was back inside the house when Petron killed himself.

Sheriff's Lt. Al Rodrigues, one of the hostage negotiators, said Petron had told them Saturday that Hall had been shot and had died. But Rodrigues noted that Petron had also said he had killed Mills on Sunday, which turned out not to be true.

At the time Petron shot himself, Mills was a few feet away inside a closet talking to police by phone as she held the infant, authorities said.

"Through most of this ordeal, the 16-year-old was taking care of the baby," Rodrigues said. "Her family should really be proud of her."

Jamie Petron
41-year-old murder suspect Jamie Petron in an undated photo  

Authorities said the two young hostages did not witness the gunman's suicide, but did hear the final gunshot. Authorities said that was the only gunshot fired Monday.

7 hostages taken initially

The standoff began Saturday when Petron entered the home in an attempt to flee police after a robbery in Broward County, Florida, on Friday.

Authorities said Petron fatally shot a convenience store clerk and wounded the owner of the store during that robbery. He later shot and wounded an Orange County sheriff's deputy before entering the home.

Initially, authorities said, Petron took seven people hostage. A grandmother and a man who were in the house escaped Saturday, but not before Petron shot at the man, grazing his head. Petron released two more hostages, an 8-year-old boy and an 11-month-old girl, Sunday.

Authorities released an audio tape Sunday in which Petron apologized for his actions and told his family he hoped he would see them again.

"All I can say is deep in my heart I'm really apologetic for this," he told his family. "I loved everybody and I didn't hurt nobody intentionally ... Hopefully everybody can go on with their lives."

Over the weekend, Petron family members and his attorney had appealed to Petron to surrender, but he rejected their televised pleas.

Earlier Monday, police negotiated by telephone with Petron, while he still held Mills, Akoon and Hall hostage.

Jim Solomon
Orange County sheriff's spokesman Jim Solomons describes Jamie Petron's response to a police robot (Audio 156 K/14 sec. AIFF or WAV sound)  

Negotiators intermittently cut power to the home and blasted sirens to keep Petron awake and keep him talking after the gunman left the phone off the hook.

"Our No. 1 priority throughout this crisis was to secure the release of all parties involved," said Beary, who added that during the 51 1/2 hour standoff, the suspect constantly changed his demands.

"Our negotiators met all of Petron's requests," Beary said. "Petron talked to his fiancee, his attorney, his son. He was provided access to the media through a taped statement."

Angelo Nieves, a spokesman for the sheriff's department, said Petron was occasionally agitated, but had made no demands earlier in the day.

Robot had been sent to house

The sheriff's department Monday morning sent a robot equipped with a speaker up to the house in an effort to increase dialogue with Petron. Spokesman Jim Solomons said Petron became "agitated" and "squeezed off a few rounds" at the robot.

Solomons said the machine survived the attack and officers backed it away.

Authorities said Petron entered the house in the Meadow Woods Village neighborhood around 11:30 a.m. Saturday.

Police said Petron had a violent past, having served time for the attempted murder of a Leon County sheriff's deputy in 1985.



RELATED STORIES:
Florida hostage-taker apologizes, releases 2
July 23, 2000
Last of hostages released as gunmen at Los Angeles area jewelry store surrender
July 16, 2000
Gunman surrenders after California hostage standoff
July 4, 2000
Disney World hostage standoff ends peacefully; suspect surrenders
June 30, 2000
Archbishop freed by man claiming to have grenade
June 28, 2000
Maryland hostage-taker killed, captives safe
March 22, 2000

RELATED SITES:
Orange County Sheriff's Office
Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation
Broward County

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