National/World

Ind. man releases hostages, fatally shoots self

Saturday, May 26, 2012

A gunman looking for someone he believed owed him money shot himself inside an Indiana real estate office several hours after releasing hostages Friday, and he died after being rushed to a hospital, police said.

Two loud bangs were heard Friday afternoon before SWAT team members broke windows and rushed into the Prudential Executive Group Real Estate office in Valparaiso, where police said the gunman had holed up.

Valparaiso Police Chief Michael Brickner said officers determined the gunman had shot himself twice in the head, likely before they entered the building. The man was rushed to a hospital in critical condition, and he died Friday evening, Sgt. Michael Grennes said.

The gunman's name hasn't been released.

"He has some history here, but we believe he's from out of state," Brickner said.

Police had received a 911 call about 10 a.m. reporting that a man with a gun had entered the brokerage office. Grennes said there was a "brief exchange of gunfire" when officers arrived.

One witness, Randy Baker, said he was shoveling asphalt in an adjacent parking lot when an officer wielding a pistol suddenly ran by and asked if he'd seen or heard anything about a gun. When Baker said he hadn't, the officer approached the Prudential building.

Seconds later, the officer began firing at least half a dozen times in rapid succession, Baker said, adding: "It was like boom, boom, boom, boom."

After jumping behind his B&G Seal Coating truck when the firing began, he peeked slowly around to see a woman through a Prudential window - cowering under an office desk.

"That's what really scared me," Baker said. "And I ran out of there fast."

Grennes said there were fewer than 10 people in the building when the incident began. The last two hostages were released unharmed after 3 p.m.

No hostages reported being shot, though Grennes said one person who was struck in the head during the incident was treated and released from a hospital.

SWAT team members stormed the building less than two hours later.

Mack Elliott, an agent at the brokerage, earlier told The Associated Press he was not in the office when the gunman entered, but had spoken to a couple of agents who were working at the time. He believed the incident stemmed from a dispute over a real estate transaction.

(Copyright ©2014 WPVI-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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