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Gunman fires shots, holds hostages at Chicago hair salon

December 27, 1996

SKOKIE, Ill. (AP) _ A gunman fired several shots into the ceiling of a shopping mall beauty salon, then held at least one woman hostage Friday as horrified patrons ran out of the store, many still with smocks on and foil in their hair.

No one was hurt. Police said the gunman apparently was the former boyfriend of a hairdresser at the Mario Tricoci Hair Salon and Day Spa in this northern suburb of Chicago.

``All of a sudden, just maybe 100 people came running around the corner,″ said Jeanne Deininger, who watched from a nearby shoe store. ``They had no coats on, just black smocks, foil in their hair.″

Moments later, police came running from the opposite direction toward the two-story salon with their guns drawn, she said.

Police sealed off part of the shopping center and negotiated with the gunman by phone. Sgt. Robert Mason said the suspect was ``not real talkative. He says he just doesn’t care.″

Police believed the gunman was armed with a 9 mm handgun, but had no plans to press for a surrender. ``Time is on our side,″ Mason said. ``No sense pushing the issue.″

The woman being held has worked at the salon for about three years, said Anthony Christiano, a regional manager for Mario Tricoci. It was immediately unclear if more than one hostage was being held.

Police had been called twice in recent weeks after the man reportedly hit the woman, most recently about a week ago in the mall’s parking lot.

Police were in the process of getting an arrest warrant for that assault when the gunman came to the salon Friday, Mason said.

Gogi Gataric, assistant manager at the Learning Smith store in the mall, said customers from about nine stores had been evacuated as police and firefighters surrounded the salon.

Some clerks were letting in shoppers eager to scoop up post-Christmas bargains through side doors and back doors.

``Bullets are bullets, but a sale is a sale,″ said Charley Darbo, who works at a store that was sealed off. He did not want the store named.

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