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Man Claims to be Holding Hostages at Disney World Resort Hotel

Aired June 29, 2000 - 3:10 p.m. ET


LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Bobbie. We have a situation apparently at the Walt Disney World resort hotel in Florida called the Boardwalk Inn, a hostage situation apparently. Jim Solomon (ph) who's a public information officer with the Orange County Sheriff's Department is on the line.

Mr. Solomon, can you tell us what's going on?

JIM SOLOMON, PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER, ORANGE COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPT.: Right now we believe we have a gentleman that's held up in a hotel room at the Boardwalk Hotel here on Walt Disney property. He is alleging to have a hostage that is one of the service staff from the hotel. And we believe, in fact, he may have a 4-year-old child.

That's basically what we believe the situation is that we are working at this time. And right now we have SWAT personnel on hand along with other (ph) personnel and we're basically trying to determine what we're dealing with and how we're going deal with it.

WATERS: Why do you believe that's the situation? How did the report get to you?

SOLOMON: As I understand it -- and this is very preliminary -- I believe we've had some sort of contact with the individual. He's indicated that he has a server hostage, he has a 4-year-old child with him, and, again, he's alleging to be to be armed. However, I don't believe anybody with the agency has seen any weapons at this time.

WATERS: And we don't know what the problem is -- or the apparent problem is?

SOLOMON: We think this may have domestic roots. Again, we are fairly early in trying to determine what we have and we're sorting through a lot of the details and trying to separate fact from fiction at this point.

WATERS: All right. Lake Buena Vista is the area where the hotel is located and that's near, or on the...

SOLOMON: That's fair enough, sir. It's on the Walt Disney property, basically across form the MGM complex.

WATERS: All right. We appreciate your help, Jim Solomon, public information officer with the Orange County Sheriff's Department. There you heard him say an apparent hostage situation, the roots a domestic dispute, they believe. It's at the Boardwalk Inn in one of the rooms there, apparently, where a man who's claiming to be heavily armed is holding a service worker from the hotel and a child apparently.

Todd Jurkowski is a reporter with Central Florida News 13. He's working the story in Lake Buena Vista. What have you been able to find out, Todd?

CHRIS MARTINEZ, NEWS 13 REPORTER: Well, Lee (ph) this is Chris Martinez actually on the scene here at the Boardwalk Hotel at Disney World. Answers right now coming very slowly at this point as you can see. If you can see down there road here we have an area here that's been cornered off by sheriffs -- Orange County sheriff deputies. They area all over the grounds, in the air as well trying to find out exactly what is going on.

Here is what we do know right now. At about noon today the manager at the Boardwalk Hotel received a phone call from a guest here at the hotel saying they were holding hostages and that they were heavily armed and suicidal. Now they say that it is possible at this point that one of those hostages is a young child, perhaps 4 or 5 years of age, the other a food service worker here at the resort.

At this point it is still unclear what it is that he wants, if there are demands associated with this or not. The SWAT team, Orange County Sheriff's deputies are here on the ground. But they have not made contact yet with them in the building. So, as I mentioned, answers coming very slowly here. We're trying to find out what we can. And of course we will be monitoring the situation alongside the deputies our here today -- Lee.

WATERS: Do you have any idea at all the layout of this hotel and where this man may be situated?

MARTINEZ: Well, Lee, as we said the answers are very unclear at this point. We do know the Boardwalk Hotel is right back here. It is one hotel among several in an area called Disney Boardwalk. But they are not sure at this point where in the hotel he is at this point or exactly how many hostages they do have. What we do have is reports from people who said they have spoken with the hostage taker. And that is how we know what we believe, or who we believe, rather, he is holding there with him at this point. A lot of uncertainty in a very tense situation out here.

WATERS: Yes. I know it's preliminary. We have information. It's a 378-room deluxe resort with an Atlantic City boardwalk theme. You mentioned the SWAT teams in the area. We're busy here trying to gather information, too, so things are a little chaotic. Did you mention whether or not folks were being evacuated from that hotel?

MARTINEZ: At this point all that we have seen since we've been our here is a lot of rerouting of the traffic and a lot of guests coming by, very concerned, wondering what's going on. Of course, they see a lot of news crews and a lot of deputy vehicles out here. And they are very unsure as to what is going on. We believe at this point they have not made any evacuations, at least not in the general area out here. They are kind of keeping this quiet because there are a lot of guests out here and they don't want to cause a great panic out here on the grounds right now. So at this point until they get some clear answers, they're kind of keeping things as quiet as they can, trying first and foremost to establish contact with the hostage taker himself.

WATERS: All right. Thanks so much. News 13 helping us with this story. On the line that was Chris Martinez.

Now, John Best who is with the Emergency Management Team in charge of this situation.

Mr. Best, how clear is this situation to you?

JOHN BEST, EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT TEAM: Actually we are, really quickly, emergency services. We are providing -- the Orange County, Florida sheriff has requested that we provide a stand-by staging medical team. And we have an ambulance and medical team staged about a block from the Board -- from the Walt Disney World Boardwalk Hotel and Villa on a stand-by basis should the sheriff require our services.

WATERS: And what does that entail?

BEST: That involves our advanced life support ambulance, paramedic unit, and a support unit should they need logistical assistance.

WATERS: Is this standard operating procedure, or is there some reason to believe this could be more serious than we've been led to believe so far?

BEST: No. It's typical. We do this on occasion, as do other emergency medical services -- provide a stand by for the sheriff on these types of occasions whether it's hazardous materials or explosives kind of a thing or a hostage kind of thing. We -- it's just on a stand-by basis. We're -- that's pretty much the limit of our involvement.

WATERS: And if you are called upon to do something what is it you do? Is it a triage sort of situation?

BEST: Yes. We would assume the emergency medical services responsibility for anything that would happen medical on the scene. It's a law enforcement matter at this point. And our role would simply be that of emergency medical services, whether patient care -- initial patient care and transport of patients.

WATERS: But you have no special reason to believe that those services will become necessary in this case? It's just something as a precaution?

BEST: That's correct. We do this routinely as do other emergency medical services. We support the sheriff and law enforcement in these kinds of things just to be sure that we have a dedicated unit close by for quick response and that kind of thing.

WATERS: All right. John Best, Emergency Medical Services. We are going to follow this story, of course, as soon as something develops or if something develops we'll pass it along to you.

In the meantime, let's get back to Bobbie Battista and more of TALKBACK LIVE.



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