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Santa Monica Hostage Standoff Ends After Gunman Surrenders

Aired July 4, 2000 - 2:10 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: In Santa Monica, California, a hostage standoff has ended after five perilous hours. A homicide suspect shot it out with police and held 15 people on a waterfront pier before giving up. Several people were treated for gunshot wounds.

CNN's Jim Hill reports on a harrowing start to the 4th of July.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JIM HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A man described by police as a very hard-core gang suspect surrendered to Santa Monica, California SWAT team after allegedly wounding four people and holding hostages on the city's famous amusement pier.

The drama started just after 1:00 a.m. Pacific time when police spotted two suspects on the pier, both wanted in three separate killings. Police say one suspect was immediately taken into custody, but the other, who they identify as 25-year-old Oswald Amezcua, fled into an arcade.

PHILLIP GUTIERREZ, WITNESS: As soon as he walked out of the door, he turned to his left and just shot straight at all the cops that were standing there, and we just took off running.

CHIEF JAMES BUTTS JR., SANTA MONICA POLICE: Officers were fired upon by the suspect. Three of them were hit. At least one civilian bystander was hit.

HILL: Fortunately, the injuries were not life-threatening. But inside the arcade, Amezcua reportedly took 15 people hostage. Throughout the early morning hours, hostages were released in small groups as police sharpshooters maintained their positions on the pier. Police negotiators say they talked to the suspect by phone.

LT. GARY GALLINOT, SANTA MONICA POLICE: He was remorseful for what he had done -- at least that's what he was telling us -- again, concerned about the people that he had as hostages. So, you know, the negotiators are trained to play on this.

HILL: After five hours, negotiators convinced the suspect to surrender. He climbed out an arcade window, laid on the ground and was taken into custody.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HILL: The suspect now behind bars here in Santa Monica. Of course, he was wanted in connection with three separate murders. Now, in addition to that, he is charged with 15 counts of kidnap, as well as four counts of attempted murder.

I'm Jim Hill, CNN, reporting live from Santa Monica, California.

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