Calif. Gunmen Release All Hostages
Jul. 16, 2000
ROLLING HILLS ESTATES, Calif. (AP) _ Gunmen who held six people hostage in a botched jewelry store heist released their three remaining captives and were arrested Sunday, authorities said.
The three hostages _ two men and a woman _ and the two gunmen walked out of the shop about 11 a.m. All of the hostages were unharmed, authorities said.
Sheriff's Cmdr. Bill McSweeney said the gunmen finally surrendered because of ``excellent negotiators and exhaustion.''
The nearly 17-hour ordeal began about 5:20 p.m. Saturday after two middle-aged men dressed in business suits and claiming to be police detectives entered Morgan's Jewelers, pulled out handguns and began robbing the store.
An employee activated a silent alarm, and sheriff's deputies arrived on the scene as two men with briefcases and weapons were leaving the store, McSweeney said. As soon as the men saw the officers, they hurried back inside, he said. Six people, all employees or owners of the store, were taken hostage.
Nearly 100 deputies surrounded the store and cleared out the surrounding strip mall as negotiators communicated via telephone with the gunmen.
Shopper Bob Dunbar said deputies initially told people in the mall to duck for cover inside shops and then told them to evacuate. ``They yelled 'Get down! Get away!''' he said. ``It was scary.''
The first hostage, a woman, was released sometime after 3 a.m., nearly 10 hours after the ordeal began. A man was released after 6 a.m., and another woman was released about three hours later, leaving the store with her hands raised over her head.
At about 7 a.m. one of the gunman asked for an attorney, authorities said. They called that an encouraging sign that the standoff would peacefully. It was not clear whether the gunman's request was granted.
After the two suspects surrendered, they were taken into custody and were expected to be booked for suspicion of armed robbery and false imprisonment, authorities said.
Rolling Hills Estates is about 30 miles southwest of downtown Los Angeles.