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Hostage Drama Ends in Milan Bank

December 31, 1997

MILAN, Italy (AP) _ A disgruntled customer who took four bank employees hostage released the last of the captives Tuesday after a 25-hour-standoff, then was captured in a shootout with police that left him and two officers wounded.

The hostage-taker, armed with a hand grenade and a pistol, was a 35-year-old Sicilian who was turned down for a loan by Banca Popolare di Milano because of his criminal record for theft and extortion.

After releasing his last hostage Tuesday afternoon, the man, identified as Domenico Gargano, refused to surrender unless he was driven in a car through Milan so he could hand out to the public some of the $2.2 million that police delivered to him before dawn, RAI state TV said.

Gargano had lowered his initial demand from nearly $6 million to $3.9 million. At one point he demanded a helicopter for his escape, claiming he wanted to air-drop money to people.

The hostage-taking in the branch on the southeast side of Milan began just before the bank’s 3:30 p.m. closing time Monday, when Gargano was the only customer.

He released the first of the four hostages about three hours later then released the other three on Tuesday.

After releasing the last hostage, shortly before 5 p.m. Tuesday, Gargano gave police the grenade but held on to his pistol and was refusing to surrender, reports said.

Police said Gargano started firing at them when a team that rushed into the bank office to capture him sent a police dog at him. Police said they then fired back.

Milan Police Chief Marcello Carmineo said Gargano apparently lightly wounded himself when he kept firing as police grabbed his arm.

Gargano was taken to Milan police headquarters for questioning.

A few hours before he let go the last hostage, Gargano threw wads of money from the first floor window of the bank office where he had barricaded himself.

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