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Three Dead In Restaurant Siege

January 4, 1989

LOVELAND, Colo. (AP) _ A prison parolee demanding a plane to Libya grabbed about 20 hostages in a restaurant, killing one before he was fatally shot by police, who accidentally killed another hostage, officials said today.

The gunman, Wayne Strozzi, 35, also wounded two officers before he died at McKee Medical Center late Tuesday, authorities said.

Strozzi, who was paroled in 1987 after serving 13 months on cocaine charges, first assaulted his girlfriend at her apartment, police said. Police then chased him on foot to the Riverhouse Restaurant, said Sgt. Ray Miller.

At the restaurant, Strozzi held about 20 patrons and staff at gunpoint for about an hour, demanding a plane to Libya, Miller said.

Strozzi apparently was angry that his girlfriend had begun dating another man, police said.

Sally Mills, a waitress at the restaurant, and Fenton Crookshank, a customer, were killed, said Larimer County District Attorney Stu VanMeveren.

Mills, in her 40s, was shot by Strozzi as snipers fired on the gunman, VanMeveren said. Crookshank, 45, was killed by a police officer as the patron dove through a bathroom window in an attempt to flee, he said.

VanMeveren refused to name the officer who shot Crookshank. Police said Crookshank had failed to respond to orders to halt as he jumped out the window and approached officers.

Another female hostage was treated and released for cuts on her foot caused by shattered glass, authorities said.

Officer Joe Berdin and Sheriff’s Deputy J. Hirokawa suffered gunshot wounds to the arms, said Carol Matheis-Kraft, assistant hospital administrator. Berdin was listed in good condition and Hirokawa was treated and released.

The trouble began at 6:45 p.m. when police in this city of 30,000 people 50 miles north of Denver responded to a disturbance at the home of Strozzi’s girlfriend, who had been assaulted, Miller said.

After fleeing to his house, Strozzi shot Hiorkawa and was chased to the restaurant, where he took the hostages and readied a getaway car. As he walked outside holding his semi-automatic pistol to the head of diner Belva Bethel, he spotted officer Berdin in the parking lot and shot him in the shoulder.

Strozzi then pulled the woman back into the restaurant at gunpoint and began making demands.

″He said he was going to waste everybody,″ said Jim Carr, a member of a club that was meeting in the restaurant basement. The club members escaped out the back.

One hostage was Ms. Bethel’s husband, Steve Bethel, a 32-year-old reserve officer with the Police Department who said he cooperated and tried not to intimidate the gunman.

″I couldn’t tell if he was drunk, but he was on some kind of drug, I know that,″ Bethel said.

Strozzi released about a half dozen hostages before shooting the waitress about 9 p.m., while police negotiated by megaphone. Police snipers then opened fire, shooting Strozzi at least three times in the head and abdomen.

Crookshank was shot about the same time, police said.

Update hourly