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1 Dead As Pa. Hostage Standoff Ends

June 18, 1999

NORRISTOWN, Pa. (AP) _ A hostage standoff at the state’s largest mental institution ended tragically today when a fired employee killed one hostage and critically wounded the other after police broke a window to get a better look at him, authorities said.

Dennis Czajkowski, a former nurse at Norristown State Hospital who had held the hostages since Wednesday, shot and killed nursing supervisor Carol Kepner, state police spokesman Robert Whitbeck said.

Czajkowski shot a second hostage, Maria Jordan, who was flown to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Whitbeck said. She was in critical condition.

Czajkowski, 40, who apparently had been angry over being fired from his job, was taken away by medical helicopter with unspecified injuries. He also was in critical condition. Whitbeck said state police did not fire any shots at him.

``He was terminated and the two women he is holding were part of that decision,″ Whitbeck said earlier today. ``He specifically targeted at least Maria Jordan. We don’t know whether he knew for sure whether Carol Kepner would be there.″

Visibly shaken after the standoff ended badly, Whitbeck said that as of 8:45 a.m. today Czajkowski had become increasingly agitated. Police, who at that point could not see the gunman, decided to break in a window.

``Immediately on breaking one of the windows the subject opened fire,″ Whitbeck said.

The power had been shut down Thursday night and police negotiators worked round the clock talking to Czajkowski. But they said he did respond to conventional hostage-negotiation techniques. By this morning, he had apparently been awake for most if not all of the time since the standoff began around 10:45 a.m. Wednesday, police said.

Czajkowski had held the women in Ms. Jordan’s office. Negotiators were in another room of the building, negotiating by phone.

The hospital’s 650 patients were moved to safe quarters on Wednesday. Areas away from the nursing offices continued to operate normally Thursday for the most part, with workers showing up for their regular shifts.

The 118-year-old hospital, situated on 233 acres, has a locked area where the worst of the criminally insane are kept, and also serves the chronically mentally ill.

Neighbors have sought tighter security after dozens of patients walked away from the hospital without permission in the past two years.

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