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Fla. Man Arrested in Killing, Standoff

July 20, 2005

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. (AP) _ A man fired shots into a van filled with children, critically wounding his girlfriend who was driving and killing her 13-year-old niece, then broke into an apartment and held two people hostage before surrendering Wednesday, police said.

Paul Christian Rentas-Rivera, 29, of Orlando, was charged with two counts of attempted murder, one count of kidnapping and one count of burglary. After the niece died in a hospital, police said murder charges would likely be filed as well.

Rentas-Rivera opened fire Tuesday evening when the woman started to drive away after an argument, police said. Witnesses told police the assailant fired 15 shots at the van.

The woman fled to a nearby diner, where employees called police.

Officers said they pursued Rentas-Rivera to an apartment building about five blocks away, where he broke into a second-floor apartment. Two people in the apartment were initially held hostage but later released unharmed, police spokesman Michael Zdunkiewicz said.

Rentas-Rivera made no demands, except to ask for cigarettes, Zdunkiewicz said. After negotiations failed to end the standoff, five tear gas canisters were fired into the apartment at about 3:45 a.m., more than eight hours after the standoff began.

The woman, identified as Aja Leigh McKenna, 26, of Jacksonville Beach, was in critical condition Wednesday at Shands Jacksonville hospital, authorities said. Her niece, Brinna Maria Ganas of Jacksonville, died at the hospital Wednesday. Three other children in the van were treated for minor injuries, officials said.

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