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Gunman Frees 2 Children as Florida Standoff Continues

July 24, 2000|From Times Wire Services

ORLANDO, Fla. — A murder suspect holding five hostages in a suburban home released two of four children Sunday as police tried to end the two-day standoff.

Both children, an 8-year-old boy and an infant girl, were in good health, although the boy was hungry and thirsty, Orange County Sheriff Kevin Beary said.

Beary said the suspect, Jamie Dean Petron, 41, had asked police to see the children reunited with their parents on live television.

Petron told police he would release the other hostages after the tape of a statement he made was aired, Orange County Sheriff's Capt. Steve Jones said, but he continued to hold them Sunday night.

A woman in her 40s, a 16-year-old girl and a 9-month-old girl remained inside the home Sunday afternoon, police said. Earlier Sunday, police had fired a shot at Petron in an attempt to end the standoff but missed.

In the afternoon, negotiators released a taped statement from Petron in which he said he didn't mean to hurt anyone.

"This is not me. It's something that totally happened," he said. "All I can say is deep in my heart I am really apologetic. Don't think I'm the devil, I'm not the devil."

Petron took the family hostage Saturday after shooting an Orange County sheriff's deputy as the deputy tried to arrest him, police said. Petron is suspected in the Friday shooting death of a Pompano Beach convenience store clerk, authorities said.

Petron apparently did not know the family before he burst into their home in the Meadow Woods subdivision, south of Orlando. About 20 nearby homes were evacuated.

He had not threatened to harm anyone, Orange County sheriff's spokesman Jim Solomons said. Petron had demanded food and "other things," but police did not release details.

Petron has said someone in the house is injured, though police could not confirm whether it was true.

Petron is a suspect in the Friday slaying of Jorge Trillos, 22, during a store robbery in Pompano Beach. Trillos' boss, Samir Hantash, 48, was seriously wounded.

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