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    Police storm pediatrics ward to free hostage

    By MIKE BRASSFIELD
    © St. Petersburg Times
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    published March 20, 2002

    A six-hour standoff in the pediatrics ward of a Bradenton hospital ended Tuesday night when police officers stormed a room where a man was holding a woman hostage.

    Officers with a SWAT team charged into the room at Manatee Memorial Hospital because the hostage was preparing to jump out of a second-floor window to escape from her captor, police said.

    The man had been threatening the woman with a large shard of glass from a broken window, said Bradenton police Maj. Jeff Lewis. Police wrestled the man to the floor as he tried to slash his own throat with the glass.

    The man was involved in a domestic dispute with the woman, who was either his wife or his girlfriend, Lewis said. The couple's names were not immediately available. "He's upset, possibly about a pending divorce or breakup," Lewis said.

    The hostage situation began about 2:45 p.m. when the couple and their 4-month-old child were in a room in the hospital's second-floor pediatrics wing.

    The man became upset and broke a window, police said. Two security guards were called.

    The man held the shard of glass to the woman's throat, and the guards retreated with the baby, Lewis said. Police arrived soon afterward. About a dozen rooms in the pediatrics wing were evacuated during the standoff.

    Police stayed outside the room where the couple was, and tried to negotiate with the man. They brought in a Spanish-speaking officer to communicate with him. They brought him a soda because he was thirsty. But he wouldn't let the woman go.

    Finally, about 9 p.m., the woman tried to escape.

    The man holding the shard of glass began cutting his own neck, but officers subdued him, Lewis said.

    The man was being treated in the hospital's emergency room late Tuesday. Police said they planned to arrest him on charges of kidnapping and aggravated battery.

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