San Antonio Archbishop held hostage in chancery office

Wednesday, June 28th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

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Police were told that a man with a hand grenade was holding the archbishop hostage in Flores' third-floor office. His secretary also was a hostage but was released about two hours after the incident began, police said.

Sgt. Gabriel Trevino said police hostage negotiators were attempting to establish contact with the man, described as slender-built and wearing a goatee.

One person who was in the building said in an interview that she quickly drove to St. Paul Catholic Church, where she contacted the pastor and drove him back to the chancery office. She said Father Jimmy Drennan, who had been a police officer before entering the priesthood, was able to walk past police officers and enter the building.

Trevino confirmed Drennan was in the building but said he was not with the hostages.

Richard Yzaguirre, general manager of Catholic Television, said he saw the archbishop on the parking lot. He said he saw a man in his 30s approach the archbishop and the two spoke to each other in Spanish. The man had a passport in his hand and was telling the archbishop he wanted him to help him with a passport problem, Yzaguirre said. He said the archbishop told the man that there were offices that handled those kinds of matters, but the man was persistent that he wanted the archbishop to handle the matter.

Yzaguirre saw the man then talk to a younger man who left in a white car. The archbishop and the man with the passport then went into the chancery building, Yzaguirre said.

Carmen Iruegas, who has been a secretary to the archbishop for 11 years, said the archbishop went into his office with a man. She and the other secretary heard a thud, and they went inside to investigate.

"I just walked in and saw the archbishop on the floor," she said. She rushed out and summoned help. She went downstairs, she said, and couldn't get back up again.

Myrtle Sanchez, 60, who has worked in the chancery for more than 30 years, was also a hostage but was freed early Wednesday afternoon. It was not known whether the archbishop had been injured.