tampabay.com

Don't tangle with this tourist

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published February 24, 2007


SAN JOSE, Costa Rica - An American tourist who watched as a U.S. military veteran in his 70s used his bare hands to kill an armed assailant in Costa Rica said she thought the attempted robbery was a joke - until the masked attacker held a gun to her head.

"I thought it was a skit. But then he pointed the gun at my head and grabbed me by the throat and I thought I was going to die," Clova Adams, 54, said by phone Friday from the Carnival Liberty cruise ship.

The assault occurred during a ship stopover Wednesday in Limon, 80 miles east of San Jose, Costa Rica's capital.

Adams was with 12 American tourists who hired a driver to explore Costa Rica. They were climbing out of the van to visit a Caribbean beach when three masked men ran toward them, she said. One held a gun to her head, while the other two pulled out knives.

Suddenly, one of the tourists, a U.S. military veteran trained in self defense, jumped out of the van and put the gunman in a headlock, according to Limon police chief Luis Hernandez.

Hernandez said the American, whom he refused to identify, struggled with the robber, breaking his collarbone and eventually killing him. Police identified the dead man as Warner Segura, 20. The other two assailants fled.

Afterward, the tourists drove Segura to a hospital, where he was declared dead. Sergio Lopez, a Red Cross auxiliary, examined Segura's body and said he died from asphyxiation.

The U.S. Embassy confirmed the account, but declined to release the name of the American who defended the group, citing his right to privacy.

Costa Rican officials interviewed the Americans and said they wouldn't charge the U.S. tourist with any crime because he acted in self defense.

"They were in their right to defend themselves after being held up," Hernandez said. He said Segura had previous charges against him for assaults.

Carnival Cruise confirmed that a guest had killed the assailant, but declined to name those involved. "All of the guests involved, who had booked the cruise together as a group, have opted to continue with their vacation plans," it said.