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Chicago Office Gunman Shoots Four, Dies

December 8, 2006

CHICAGO (AP) _ A gunman shot four people and took a hostage in a downtown skyscraper Friday, then died after police fired at him, authorities said.

The gunman was armed with a snub-nose revolver, knife and hammer, police Superintendent Phil Cline said. He was holding the hostage when police shot at him, but he also may have shot himself, Cline said.

Three people were hospitalized in critical condition _ two at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and one at Cook County Hospital _ and one was in stable condition at Rush University Medical Center, Fire Department spokeswoman Eve Rodriguez said.

Fire officials said they had reports of shots fired in the top floor of the 38-story Citigroup Center.

Cindy Penzick, secretary in a law firm on the 37th floor, said that after a co-worker told her she heard gunshots, a police officer with his gun drawn on their floor yelled at them to get out.

Penzick said she is usually calm, ``But I have to tell you this was scary as hell.″

People hurried down the escalators and ran from the skyscraper on the west side of downtown. Dozens of police cars and two fire trucks were in front of the building, where one person was seen being loaded onto an ambulance.

Keegan Greene, who works at Verizon Wireless on the first floor, was helping a customer when fire alarms began going off.

``One of the security guards came up to us and started saying, ``Run, run, run, run, run!″ Greene said.

Metra spokeswoman Judy Pardonnet said service was suspended on the commuter train line until police say it can safely resume. She said all Metra crew members were locked into secure areas within the facility.

Many commuters who had planned to board trains were milling around in the cold, trying to figure out how they would get home. Several people congregated in a nearby ATM vestibule to stay warm, while others boarded city buses to stay warm.

Metra spokeswoman Judy Pardonnet said the commuter train line has suspended service. She said the last train left at 3:45 p.m., and no trains will leave or enter the station again until police notify the rail service that it is safe to do so.

Chicago Transit Authority spokeswoman Wanda Taylor said seven bus routes were diverted from the area, and the CTA was honoring Metra passes on buses and trains.

Janet Buswell, office manager for a firm located on a lower (25th) floor, says her staff learned of the incident when emergency flashers went off and they were told over building speakers to secure their offices and let no one in or out.

``It was a little tense, when you don’t know what’s going on,″ said Buswell, of RBC Dain Rauscher Inc. ``Of course this is the train station building, so there’s always the fear that could be targeted.″

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