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Santa Monica Police Negotiate With Gunman Holding Six HostagesAired July 4, 2000 - 8:30 a.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Police in Santa Monica, California, are negotiating with a gunman who is holding up to six hostages in an arcade on the famed Santa Monica Pier. Santa Monica's police chief says that the situation began shortly after 1:00 a.m. local time.
Police from San Bernardino County where in -- were in Santa Monica to arrest a suspect who was wanted in connection with a triple homicide, and the attempted shooting of a deputy as well. And as they were making the arrest on that particular person, the police chief said gunfire broke out, and up to five people were wounded, three of them police. The suspect in that shooting then ran into the Playland Arcade where he took hostages, and he's reportedly released as many as nine captives. He is armed, we understand, with at least one semi- automatic pistol.
We want to show you now the latest live pictures we have coming from KCBS, our affiliate out there in Los Angeles.
We are joined also by Pete Demetriou, he's with KFWB radio and he has been...
As I understand it, Pete, you've actually been there on the scene this morning; is that correct?
PETE DEMETRIOU, KFWB REPORTER: Yes, I've been here about an hour and 15, an hour and 20 minutes or so, Leon.
HARRIS: What have you seen and heard so far?
DEMETRIOU: Basically, you have a lot of people from the Santa Monica area, some of whom were here on the pier when the shooting and the arrest took place at about 1:00 to 1:40 this morning. They've been waiting here. And of course, the media circus draws a lot of people as well. You do have an interesting tactical situation down there on the pier though, it's been completely shut off except for police officers, emergency personnel, many rescue ambulances, and the crisis negotiators that are down there trying to talk with this man.
HARRIS: All right, have they released any names to you at all? of either the gunmen or any of the hostages or the injured people?
DEMETRIOU: At this point the injured people, no. But here's what we do have. The gunman who is inside is believed to be 26-year- old Oswald Amezcua. He is one of two men suspected of being involved in a triple-homicide in San Bernardino County, that happened in the last week of June.
The primary man that the officers from the Santa Monica police department were going after, based on information given to them by the San Bernardino County sheriff, was a man named Jose Flores. Now they did find Flores, they arrested him after a brief struggle. And Flores had a TEC-9 semi-automatic pistol with him plus a .22 caliber semi- automatic pistol, so he had two guns on him.
The thing was, that Amezcua apparently saw the arrest, ran away from police, ran into the Playland Arcade, tried to get out of the back door. He was confronted by at least three officers there, that's when gunfire broke out, about seven to 10 rounds fired according to some of the witnesses here. Three officers went down, a female officer was shot in the shoulder, a male officer shot in the leg, another male officer shot in the leg and a citizen, an ordinary citizen was also shot in the leg. They're at local hospitals right now and none of those wounds are life threatening.
So we have rather dangerous situation here with a man who still has four to six hostages with him inside that arcade.
HARRIS: Hostages and still some automatic weapons too, along with him.
DEMETRIOU: He has at least one pistol.
HARRIS: As a matter of fact, one would surmise that this could have been a real tragedy, considering there were automatic weapons involved, if there were a lot of people out there on that pier. This happened sometime between 1:00 a.m. and 2:00 a.m. local time. How many people were generally out there at that time?
DEMETRIOU: At that time on the Santa Monica Pier, on a Fourth of July weekend, you could have anywhere from dozens up to 100. Again, the weather is rather nice out here, in the 50s and 60s. And people tend to walk out on the pier until 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning when all the rides and all the businesses technically close out there.
So again, it's amazing that only four people were hit by gunfire here. But all the same, the situation could have been a lot worse. Right now, the crisis negotiators are doing an excellent job in getting the man to release those hostages. But still, you've got four in there and a man with a gun. Right now he really has nothing to lose. He's looking technically, according to California law, because of the crimes he's just committed this morning, at four life sentences. That's right now before anything else happens.
HARRIS: That means the police there could be in for a long, longer night. Pete Demetriou, we thank you very much. Pete Demetriou, with KFWB radio.
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