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California and the West

School Hostage-Taking Ends Peacefully

Siege: An Arizona youth, 14, surrenders to police after holding a teacher and class at gunpoint for about an hour.

October 25, 2000|From Associated Press

GLENDALE, Ariz. — An armed teenager briefly held a classroom full of children and a teacher hostage Tuesday at his former school before surrendering to authorities. No one was injured.

The 14-year-old youth, who withdrew from Pioneer Elementary School earlier this month, had planned the standoff and took a loaded 9-millimeter handgun from his father as an attention-getting ploy, police spokesman Matt Brown said.

"All that was required was the trigger being pulled," Brown said. "That's why it was a volatile situation."

The boy surrendered after speaking with the teacher and a negotiator from a police SWAT team, Brown said. The standoff in the classroom full of seventh- and eighth-graders lasted about an hour.

There were as many as 30 people in the portable classroom when the teenager walked in, Brown said. Most were gradually released, and one student and the teacher remained inside when he surrendered.

Police were expected to charge the youth with aggravated assault and kidnapping.

The school, which offers kindergarten through eighth-grade classes, was closed and students were taken to a high school, where parents could pick them up.

Courtney Smith, who lives across the street from the school, said she saw the suspect enter the school grounds about 11:15 a.m., wearing camouflage and with a hood over his head.

"I didn't think anything of it. Next thing we know there were girls running out of the classroom screaming. They told us there was a kid inside with a gun holding kids hostage," Smith said. "They were hysterical, crying and screaming. They told us he'd threatened to kill them."

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