Crowd Keeps Curious Eye on Hostage Situation With PM-Hostage Standoff Bjt
EULESS, Texas (AP) _ The atmosphere inside was tense, but outside the scene was one of curious onlookers, ice chests, lawn chairs and even a tinkling ice cream truck.
For two days a gunman held his ex-wife hostage in the convenience store where she worked as a clerk, drawing a crowd of police officers hoping to negotiate a peaceful end to the drama, and a mass of excited observers.
But the incident ended Sunday night when officers stormed the Kwik Pantry store and shot to death Maron Mataele, 27.
They had learned that he had killed his 26-year-old ex-wife, Cassandra ″Sane″ Mataele four hours earlier. He had held her hostage, sometimes bound and gagged, since 9 p.m. Friday.
Before the raid that ended the standoff, crowds gathered near the store as negotiations continued. One man brought an ice cream truck to the area at one point Sunday and rang his bell to hawk his wares in the 80-degree heat of this Fort Worth suburb.
Two men set up lawn chairs on a hill near the store Saturday to watch the goings-on, and Sunday others stationed themselves aboard the backs of pickup trucks, gazing at the scene through binoculars.
As night fell Sunday, floodlights brightened a nearby softball field while police prepared to storm the store.
Officers had circled the store since Friday night, continuing their patient vigil. But some of the people outside weren’t quite so content to wait for an end to the standoff.
″Smoke him out of there,″ urged a Haltom City woman who identified herself only as C. Harris. ″I think they need not to let it go on too long. It just encourages more of this kind of thing.″
″It’s pretty strange. I think that before long, they’d better get that lady out of there,″ said Robert Warden of Dallas. ″With all the manpower, they should be able to get that one guy out of there.″
Police had to disperse a group of about 25 people who had posted themselves in a nearby restaurant parking lot waiting for a change in the hostage drama.
″We kept having to yell at them and telling them to get back,″ officer J.E. Alexander said. ″It’s not fair to the restaurant. The parking lot is not big enough.″
Ann Oliva of Euless said she didn’t approve of the gathering crowds but admitted she, too, came out of curiosity.
″We thought it was an accident when we saw (the activity Friday). Then we saw it on the news,″ Ms. Oliva said. ″We’re just curious what the man in the store is going to do.″