Fla. Murder Suspect Releases 2 Kids

Sunday, July 23rd 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — A murder suspect holding five hostages in a suburban home released two of the four children Sunday as police tried to end the standoff.

Both children, an 8-year-old boy and a girl under 1, were in good health, although the boy was hungry and thirsty, Orange County Sheriff Kevin Beary said.

Beary said the suspect, Jamie Dean Petron, 41, had asked police to see the children reunited with their parents on live television after releasing them.

``Everybody is entitled to make mistakes, and he's made them and admitted to it,'' Beary said. ``But folks, this is a very positive thing.''

A woman in her 40s, a 16-year-old girl and an 11-month-old boy remained inside the home Sunday afternoon, police said. Earlier Sunday, police had fired a shot at Petron in an attempt to end the standoff but missed.

Petron took the family hostage Saturday after shooting an Orange County sheriff's deputy in the leg as the deputy tried to arrest him outside a nearby grocery store, police said. Petron is suspected in the Friday shooting death of a Pompano Beach convenience store clerk, authorities said.

Petron apparently did not know the family before he burst into their home in the Meadow Woods subdivision, south of Orlando. About 20 nearby homes were evacuated.

He had not threatened to harm anyone, Orange County sheriff's spokesman Jim Solomons said. Petron had demanded food and ``other things,'' but police did not release details.

Petron, who continued negotiating with police after a SWAT officer shot at him, has said someone in the house is injured, though police could not confirm whether it was true, Orange County sheriff's Sgt. Angelo Nieves said.

``I'm sure he wants the right thing done,'' Petron's attorney, Spencer Bryant Siegel, said Sunday after talking to his client by phone.

``Probably the biggest thing preventing him from coming out is the fear of the unknown,'' Siegel said.

The sheriff's office was receiving assistance from Petron's son, a Broward County sheriff's employee, who traveled to Orlando in an attempt to convince his father to let the hostages go.

On Saturday, Petron shot at a 28-year-old man as he escaped the home, grazing the man's head, authorities said. The man, identified by relatives as Norman West, was hospitalized in good condition.

West's mother escaped uninjured from the home immediately after Petron entered, authorities said.

West and his mother, Thelma Mills, were in the garage when Petron ran up to the house, according to Amanda Clarke, a relative.

``The garage was open, it was the safest place for him to run,'' Clarke said. ``She thought he was some ordinary citizen. She didn't know it was the law chasing him. She thought it was someone trying to hurt him.''

Clarke said once Petron got inside the house, Mills saw the gun. When Petron demanded she get him a phone, she ran out the garage door instead, Clarke said.

Clarke said the hostages are Mills' sister, who was visiting from New York with her children, and Mills' 16-year-old daughter and 11-month-old grandson.

Petron is a suspect in the Friday slaying of Jorge Trillos, 22, during a convenience store robbery in Pompano Beach. Trillos' boss, Samir Hantash, 48, was seriously wounded.

Deputies located Petron about noon Saturday at a grocery store, but Petron rammed a sheriff's vehicle and shot Deputy Scott Winters in the leg, authorities said. Winters, 26, was in stable condition.

Records show Petron was sentenced to 20 years in prison in 1986 for attempted first-degree murder, forgery and battery on a law enforcement officer. He was released from prison on Dec. 10, 1995.