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Police Kill Gunman in Standoff

He had taken at least 12 hostages at a Tennessee college. He left a note saying he wanted to die.

September 18, 2003|From Associated Press

DYERSBURG, Tenn. — A gunman held at least a dozen people hostage in a college classroom before he was shot by police after a nine-hour standoff. Two hostages were wounded.

Police heard gunshots from inside the building at Dyersburg State Community College about 10 p.m. CDT. The gunman, 26-year-old Harold Kilpatrick Jr., had left a note saying he "wanted to kill some people and die today."

Dyersburg Police Chief Bobby Williamson initially said Kilpatrick fatally shot himself, but he later confirmed that officers shot him.

"Our people shot one -- the hostage-taker -- and two others were wounded," Williamson said.

It was not immediately clear whether the two hostages were wounded by police or Kilpatrick. Williamson said the injuries to the hostages were not serious.

Four ambulances were at the college in Dyersburg, about 75 miles northeast of Memphis. Three people were carried out of the building on stretchers. Police escorted several other people from the building.

The gunman, believed to have had a 9-millimeter pistol and what looked like a butcher knife, made no demands, aside from food and drink. In the evening, he asked for six pepperoni pizzas and two six-packs of soft drinks, which police delivered.

The man claimed to be a member of Al Qaeda, and Williamson said that although authorities had no reason to believe the claim, the FBI had been called in. Justice Department officials in Washington said they had no evidence that he was a member of the terrorist group.

Authorities said Kilpatrick, of Memphis, was staying with his sister in Dyersburg. In the suicide note, left at his sister's house, he also said he didn't like Americans and had spoken with Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, Williamson said.

Kilpatrick faced criminal charges of assault and kidnapping in another case, Dyersburg police spokesman Charles Maxey said. He said Kilpatrick had been scheduled to appear in a Memphis court Wednesday.

Williamson said there were 12 to 16 people in the basic-math classroom when the standoff began. About three hours later, three students were released -- all women, one of whom was pregnant.

Police said Kilpatrick was not a student or college employee.

A SWAT team and five hostage negotiators were among the officers called to the scene.

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