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Miami Cops Surround Hijacked Mail Truck

January 31, 2003

MIAMI (AP) _ Heavily armed police officers surrounded a hijacked mail truck containing an armed man who was holding a mail carrier hostage Friday after he led them on a 90-minute slow-speed chase.

The truck stopped in a busy intersection moments after officers used spikes in the road to blow out the truck’s tires. The mail carrier then moved to the back of the truck.

A WFOR-TV reporter said that when the truck passed near her, she saw a man wearing a hat holding a gun near a female mail carrier, who was driving. A television helicopter shot showed two guns sitting in the mail bin on the passenger’s seat.

Forty-eight schools in the Miami-Dade area were locked down as a precaution.

``The negotiators from our special response team are talking to him, trying to get him to give up,″ said Miami-Dade police spokeswoman Comdr. Linda O’Brien.

She said the chase began when witnesses reported seeing an armed man jumping into the truck.

The U.S. Postal inspectors office did not return calls seeking comment.

More than 15 police cruisers and police helicopter followed the truck as it wound through both main and side streets. The chase began around 11:30 a.m.

During the chase, the truck had been stopping for red lights and driving near the speed limit. Periodically the truck would stop and those inside would speak to bystanders before taking off again. The bystanders were then questioned by pursuing officers. One bystander ran back to the officers as if delivering the message.

The Rev. Marc Cooper gave his cell phone to the man when the postal truck stopped briefly during the chase, hoping that police could communicate with the man.

``I knew that if there was no communication back and forth between the police and the suspect that this could go on all day and all night,″ he told WSVN-TV.

Cooper said the man ``didn’t seem agitated, he didn’t seem nervous.″

He said his secretary called police to let them know the man had his phone. She also tried calling the man to ``pray with him,″ but she only received the phone’s voice mail.

Police had been stopping traffic to allow the truck to drive unhindered on the streets as a safety precaution.

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Associated Press Writer Vanessa Petit contributed to this report.

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