Gunman Killed, Two Arrested After Freeing Hostages
LIEGE, Belgium (AP) _ Police killed a gunman and arrested two others Saturday hours after they exchanged three hostages held nearly a week for a getaway car and $750,000, authorities said.
The man was killed in a shootout on the roof of a Liege apartment building about five hours after the gunmen released unharmed a mother and her two daughters they had held hostage in a suburban home.
Police said the gunmen, including at least one prison escapee, broke into the home of a local banker to force him to open a safe at work. The banker escaped Sunday and went to police, but the gunmen kept the hostages, authorities said.
The hostages were identified as Marie-Madeleine Jeuris and her two daughters Francoise, 12, and Gaelle, 10. Their captors released them at different times Friday evening.
Police identified one gunman as 28-year-old Philippe Delaire, a Frenchman who escaped from a French prison in March with two others, Jean Lacote and Jean Lombardo. It was not clear if they were the other two gunmen.
Police said that after a blue Mercedes was made available to the three Friday, they drove away toward the Dutch city of Maastricht, 18 miles to the north. Reporters saw two helicopters following the car.
The gunman eventually stole another car and abandoned the Mercedes, and it was not immediately clear why they had headed back to Liege or what they were doing on the roof of the apartment building.
Officials gave this account of the 7-day ordeal of the hostages:
Delaire and the two other gunmen entered the home of Guy Jeuris, a local bank manager, on Saturday, Sept. 16, planning to force Jeuris to open the safe at his bank when the bank opened Monday.
Sharpshooters took up positions around the Jeuris villa in surburban Tilff and officials began negotiating with the gunmen.
The two girls were freed minutes apart at about 7 p.m. and taken away by ambulances after police delivered ransoms of $375,000 for each child.
Police parked the Mercedes next to the villa and the three men drove off in it, taking Mrs. Jeuris with them. They released her on a highway outside Liege.
″We kept our word,″ Liege general prosecutor Leon Giet said of the ransom and getaway car. He said the deal was arranged Thursday.
Justice Minister Melchior Wathelet issued a statement praising Liege authorities for avoiding violence and expressing disgust for the gunmen.
Police said Delaire and three other criminals were involved in taking a bank manager hostage in the Netherlands in 1987 and that the four escaped, but they had no details.