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Former Iran Hostage Suffers Grave Gunshot Wound During Robbery

November 2, 1991

ADELANTO, Calif. (AP) _ One of the Americans held hostage during the 1979 seizure of the U.S. embassy in Iran was shot in the head Friday in a struggle with a robber, authorities said. He later was declared brain dead.

John McKeel Jr., 38, was shot twice in the head in the confrontation before dawn in his apartment, said police Sgt. Dave Gundersen.

McKeel was taken to Victor Valley Hospital in Victorville, where he was declared brain dead, Gundersen said. A medical team was on its way to the hospital Friday to remove his organs for transplant, he said.

A native of Balch Springs, Texas, McKeel was a Marine sergeant assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Tehran when it was overrun by Iranian militants in 1979. He and 51 other Americans were held hostage at the embassy for 444 days.

The incident began when a masked gunman accosted a woman as she walked from her car to her apartment. She fought with the robber and pulled off his mask, then recognized him as a tenant in the complex, Gunderson said.

The woman ran to McKeel’s apartment. McKeel’s wife, Trudy, manages the apartment complex, Gunderson said. The gunman followed the woman into the apartment and shot McKeel twice during a struggle, Gunderson said.

Police arrested Anthony L. Maddox, 21, at an apartment he shared with his girlfriend, Gundersen said. Maddox was held without bail for investigation of murder and armed robbery.

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