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Archive for Thursday, August 31, 2000

Hostage endangered by gunmen, heat

August 31, 2000

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— A woman held hostage inside a sport utility vehicle was getting progressively sicker as the ordeal stretched into its 18th hour Wednesday night.

An FBI doctor talked to the woman about 9 p.m. and said she was "sick and getting progressively worse," FBI spokesman Jeff Lanza said.

Lanza couldn't elaborate on the woman's condition but said the oppressive heat obviously was taking its toll.

"We're concerned about her health, her dehydration level," he said. "The conditions in that car are undoubtedly abysmal."

The doctor did not talk to either suspect and neogitators had no indication what shape they might be in, he said.

Lanza said the suspects had not made any specific demands or given any indication they were ready to give up.

The men and their hostage had been locked in the SUV, with the windows painted over to keep police from seeing inside, since shortly after they broke into the woman's home early Wednesday. Temperatures hovered around 100 degrees throughout the day.

Early Wednesday evening, law officers established a phone connection with the suspects to allow better negotiations. They used a robot machine to transport a phone, and some water, to the vehicle, and one of the suspects was seen on television, emerging briefly from the back.

"Before we had to communicate by megaphone, with the suspects yelling back," Lanza said. "Now we've got a better line of communication set up. It should be helpful."

Some people who lived nearby had been evacuated from their homes and a bus was brought to the area to give them an air-conditioned place of refuge from the heat.

The suspects had broken into a Kansas City, Kan., residence about 3 a.m. Wednesday. The woman and her three adult sons were inside. Witnesses told police that the men forced the three sons to move cars and put up barricades in the garage. As each son came out of the house, police led them away.

The suspects then broke through the garage door with the woman inside the family's SUV and drove it across the state line to Gladstone, in suburban Kansas City, Mo.

Police gave chase until one of the SUV's tires burst and stopped the vehicle on a street median. Police evacuated several homes in the area. Some schools in the city also did not hold classes Wednesday.

Police using bullhorns tried to negotiate with the men, and at least once asked them to surrender a weapon. Television reports stated the suspects were holding a gun to the woman's head, but police would not confirm that. The reports also said the suspects traded one gun for water.

It was not known whether the suspects were acquainted with the woman before they took her hostage.

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