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Gunman Who Took Hostages in Beauty Salon Had Firebomb

December 31, 1989

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) _ A gunman who took eight hostages in a beauty salon, releasing all but one before he was killed by a police sniper, had a bomb that ″could have put the whole building in flames,″ police said Saturday.

Michael Fane, 21, of Iowa City, Iowa, was shot and killed by a SWAT team sniper Friday afternoon as the last hostage, Darla Lordemann, was bending over to pick up a package police left in the salon doorway.

The explosive that Fane warned police he had in a suitcase during the 24- hour siege turned out to be a firebomb, authorities said after the device was dismantled.

″That bomb could have put the whole building in flames,″ police spokesman Joe Crinklaw said Saturday.

Fane did not get a chance to detonate the bomb, which was controlled by a switch and a walkie-talkie, Crinklaw said. The hostages were unharmed, police said.

Debbie McQueen, a beautician who was one of the hostages, said she was cutting a friend’s hair when Fane entered the salon Thursday afternoon.

″He yelled, ‘I’m taking over 3/8’ Then I saw he was swinging a gun and we all hit the floor,″ she said.

Fane then told four of the hostages, including a 5-year-old boy, to leave.

Mrs. McQueen, who was held until 8 a.m. Friday, said Fane pulled a small suitcase from the bag and ordered Mrs. Lordemann and Denise Rue, 26, to attach their wrists to the suitcase handle and lie on the floor.

Police would not disclose what Fane’s demands were, but Mrs. McQueen said he told hostages he was building a machine for God.

″He said God sent him there, God showed him the way,″ Mrs. McQueen said. ″He said ’There was no message. I just have to build a machine. It’s something God wants done and I will do it.‴

Police said their negotiations with Fane deteriorated around 6 a.m. Friday when they discovered he could have a bomb or the makings of a bomb.

Police said they also believed Fane had a 9mm pistol, but later discovered he had a 9mm look-alike pellet gun. Police said Fane probably could not have killed anyone with it.

Fane, who had been under psychiatric care, began to have severe mood swings after Ms. Rue was released in exchange for a pack of cigarettes about 3 a.m. Friday, according to Mrs. McQueen.

When negotiators told Fane they would have to cut the phone, heat and gas lines if he didn’t release more hostages, Fane became angry, Mrs. McQueen said.

She said he warned negotiators if they killed him, ″we’re all going to go up.″

At about 8 a.m. Friday, negotiators apparently said they would meet his demands, including Plexiglas, a saw, duct tape and arc welder and insulation, if he would release two hostages.

Fane agreed and the three women decided who would be freed by drawing different colored ″perm rods″ used to wave hair, as if they were drawing straws.

Mrs. Lordemann pulled the rod with the lightest color and remained as the lone hostage as Sherri Kuhlmann and Mrs. McQueen escaped, Mrs. McQueen said.

London would not say what the package sent in to the gunman had in it, but said it contained one of his demands.

Fane’s family said they blamed drugs for the actions of their son, who had dropped out of the University of Iowa. His father, Dr. Larry Fane of El Compo, Texas, said that his son recently received psychiatric treatment.

His mother, Kathy Fane, said she was in Nebraska in early November to ask the Sarpy County Mental Health Board to commit her son for psychiatric treatment, but the board declined to act.

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