By Kathy Finn
NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) – A U.S. police SWAT team stormed a rural Louisiana bank early on Wednesday, killing a gunman after he shot two hostages, one of whom later died.
In a dramatic end to a 12-hour standoff, State Police spokesman Albert Paxton said officers entered the bank in the small town of St. Joseph shortly after midnight because the gunman was threatening to kill one or both of his hostages.
The man, identified as 20-year-old Fuaed Abdo Ahmed, shot both hostages when police entered the building. Police then shot and killed him, Paxton said.
“He was angry and he wanted to kill hostages,” Paxton said of the gunman, who initially took three bank employees hostage but released one woman after several hours.
The two wounded hostages were rushed to local hospitals but one of them later died, said State Police Sergeant Eric Cuenca. The other was in critical condition. The names of the hostages were not immediately released.
Ahmed was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia and had complained of hearing voices, police said. The gunman’s family owned a convenience store in the town.
Ahmed was the California-born son of Yemeni parents. Police said there was no indication of any link to recent threats of attacks on the United States originating from Yemen.
“We don’t have any reason to believe there was any connection,” Paxton said.
The United States earlier this month temporarily shut about 20 of its embassies and consulates in the Middle East and Africa, including its embassy in Yemen, and U.S. nationals were told to leave that country after U.S. officials said they picked up information about unspecified terrorist threats.
The Louisiana standoff took place at the Tensas State Bank in St. Joseph, a town of less than 1,200 people in the northeast of the state.
Ahmed had intended to take hostages from the beginning, police said. They found a book on hostage negotiations at his apartment.
“This was not a bank robbery,” State Police Colonel Mike Edmonson told reporters in a video posted on the website of the Monroe, Louisiana News Star newspaper. “He actually had a book for negotiations… and knew exactly how the negotiations would take place, the questions he would be asked.”
(Editing by Greg McCune and Mark Trevelyan)