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Texas Archbishop May Be Hostage

June 28, 2000

SAN ANTONIO (AP) _ A man seeking help on a passport problem and claiming to have a hand grenade entered the office where Archbishop Patrick Flores was working Wednesday morning, authorities said.

Police said the Roman Catholic archbishop and his secretary were inside the office but authorities were not immediately able to contact them. The rest of the building was evacuated.

``We haven’t confirmed that he has a grenade,″ said Gabriel Trevino, a police department spokesman.

``We’re trying to establish contact with him as we speak,″ Trevino said.

Police said they don’t know the identity of the man, who entered the office at around 10:30 a.m. Hostage negotiators were at the scene, police said, but they didn’t know if the incident could be considered a hostage-taking.

Richard Yzaguirre, general manager of Catholic Television, a service run by the archdiocese, said the Spanish-speaking man, in his 30s, asked for help with a passport problem. He seemed calm and was respectful to Flores, but the man ``was pretty insistent he wanted him to help him with this problem,″ Yzaguirre said.

``I could tell the archbishop was kind of caught off guard.″

Yzaguirre learned about 20 minutes after seeing the man talk to Flores that the building was being evacuated.

The chancellery is the headquarters for the 23-county San Antonio archdiocese. Flores, 70, became the first Mexican-American Catholic bishop in the country when he was named its auxiliary bishop.

Monsignor Terence Nolan, chancellor of the diocese, said, he was not aware of any recent threats against Flores. ``Archbishop Flores is one of the prominent leaders in this city who will speak for peace. I don’t know of any concerted effort to do damage to him,″ Nolan said.

Dozens of employees evacuated from the three-story brick building were being called in groups of five to remove their cars from the building’s parking lot, Trevino said, so police could attempt to find the man’s car by elimination.

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