Man In Atlantic City Casino Standoff Surrenders Peacefully
Wednesday, November 14th 2007, 6:33 am CST
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) _ A masked man who claimed to be armed held police at bay from a shuttle bus outside a casino for nearly six hours before letting his hostages go and surrendering peacefully early Wednesday, police said.
During the standoff, the man told authorities he was armed and blamed the Showboat Casino-Hotel for the suicide of his brother, who he said had a bad gambling problem, according to a person with knowledge of the standoff who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized by law enforcement to release the information.
The man, who was not identified, was ordered by FBI agents to strip down and complied at about 4:24 a.m., said state police Sgt. Stephen Jones.
``He just gave up peacefully,'' Jones said.
No gun was immediately found.
Atlantic City Police Chief John J. Mooney said Showboat security called police shortly after 10:30 p.m. to report there was a man on a shuttle bus with a gun.
The driver fled after scuffling with the man, Mooney said, and a passenger also escaped. Three other people who remained on the bus were released a short time later. There were no injuries.
Jones said the suspect, who had what police believed was an explosive device strapped to his body, had planted a suspicious-looking device in a men's room inside the casino near the House of Blues night club, but it was later determined to be a hoax device.
Police K-9 teams swept the casino and the hotel and did not find anything else suspicious, Jones said. The casino, which had been closed down during the standoff, was allowed to reopen shortly after 5 a.m.
Acting Atlantic City Mayor William Marsh said a robot delivered a cell phone to the bus shortly after the standoff began so police could communicate with the man.
The man demanded money, Marsh said, but it was not certain how much. He also had offered to surrender if allowed to drive the van to his relatives' home and speak with them first _ a request police rejected.
Alyce Parker, a spokeswoman for Harrah's Entertainment, which owns the Showboat, said the bus was a shuttle that runs between Harrah's four properties in the coastal gambling resort.
Tony Demetro, of Atlantic City, who was playing blackjack, said Showboat staff fanned out across the casino floor around 11 p.m. and asked everyone to leave the tables and walk outside.
``They locked down all the tables, covered them with plastic covers and asked everybody to leave. It was pretty calm,'' he said.
Demetro said the Showboat sent hotel guests to the nearby Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort, where they were temporarily put up in a ballroom.
But not everyone made it there. Doris Kinsler of Lynchburg Va. was with her husband and two other relatives in their room on the 15th floor of the Showboat hotel, watching television the entire night. No one told them to evacuate, or that there was any potential danger, she said.
``I am mad as hell, and I don't care who knows about it,'' she said. ``If this place blew up, we would have gone with it.''