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Marital problems may have triggered 30-hour standoff at day-care center

December 19, 1997

PLANO, Texas (AP) _ A gunman was struggling with marital problems and probably never intended to take children hostage when he walked into a day-care center, police and relatives said.

James Monroe Lipscomb Jr. released his own son and stepson, the last of his 85 captives, then surrendered Thursday night, ending the 30-hour siege. No one was hurt.

``The babies are free! The babies are free!″ Tawana Shaw, 18, a cousin of the last hostages, shouted as she ran into the street.

Lipscomb, 33, had taken 80 children and five adults hostage at the Rigsbee Child Development Center on Wednesday. Police Chief Bruce Glasscock said there were no terms of surrender.

``I think it was a situation he fell into. As we talked to him, he became more and more regretful of his actions,″ police spokesman Carl Duke said.

Lipscomb spent the night in jail. He was arraigned this morning and bail was set at $1 million bond.

Glasscock said the domestic dispute was at the center of negotiations with Lipscomb.

``It was a long-term domestic situation that actually developed over the last few days and erupted into what occurred,″ Glasscock said.

Lipscomb’s attorney Ron Danforth said the man’s wife, Kristin Shaw-Lipscomb, had recently filed for divorce. Mrs. Shaw-Lipscomb told Dallas television station KDFW she was confident throughout the ordeal her husband wouldn’t hurt the children.

``He told (the children) he did things in life he’d have to pay for now, and that he regrets the things that he did,″ Mrs. Shaw-Lipscomb said. ``He said this all the time: `A minute of madness causes a lifetime of sadness.′ My husband loved the children very much, and did everything he could to keep the family together.″

Lipscomb was charged with one count of aggravated kidnapping, and police said more charges were likely.

Police said Lipscomb had tried to rob someone outside the nearby Plano Bank and Trust shortly before he went to the day-care center where his wife, Kris, works in this suburb north of Dallas.

Day-care center worker Denise Anderson was in charge of a classroom of six toddlers when the gunman took them hostage. She said he wasn’t necessarily threatening, but he was angry, pacing the halls as he repeated that he ``meant business.″

``He wanted to talk to his wife. He kept saying, `Let me talk to Kris,‴ Ms. Anderson said.

Mrs. Shaw-Lipscomb had escaped as her husband entered the building and was not among the hostages.

Glasscock said there is no information that Lipscomb planned to take hostages.

``There may have been some waving around of the weapon,″ Glasscock said. ``(But) it doesn’t appear that there was any direct threat to the hostages.″

Lipscomb’s relatives said they were supportive of him.

``He was just scared and his kids were his defense. He didn’t know what the police were going to do to him,″ Mrs. Shaw-Lipscomb’s cousin Theresa Love said. ``I don’t think he would have harmed those kids. He loved those kids to death.″

Mrs. Shaw-Lipscomb’s sister, Joan Shaw, said the couple’s three-year marriage has been stormy. ``I don’t know what snapped,″ she said. ``They had marital problems, but everybody has.″

The gunman released dozens of children and three adults in the early hours of the standoff. Another adult was released just before midnight Wednesday, while the last adult was freed about 4 a.m. Thursday.

Xavier Jones, 7, Lipscomb’s stepson, told KDFW-TV that he and his stepbrother, James Lipscomb III, 5, spent most of their time inside the day care center watching videos, eating snacks and napping.

``The only thing they kept saying was, `I want my daddy out of jail,‴ Mrs. Shaw-Lipscomb said.

Glasscock said the remaining children figured in Lipscomb’s decision to surrender.

``He was tired,″ the police chief said. ``The children were getting tired, and I think he started thinking about the welfare of the children.″