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Sniper Blamed In Hostage Death

Tori Ritchie - Thanksgiving Guide - Early Show Segment 11/14/2006
CBS/EARLY SHOW
A sniper's missed shot at a gunman holding a family hostage over the weekend is to blame for the death of one of the hostages, police said Tuesday.

A woman and the murder suspect who had held her hostage for three days were found dead inside a suburban Orlando home Monday shortly after two children were set free.

Authorities said the captor, Jamie Dean Petron, 41, killed himself and was found dead in the master bedroom. Andrea Hall, 40, who had been held since Saturday, was also found dead in the kitchen. Police said she had been dead for several hours.

On Tuesday, police confirmed that it was a bullet from a sniper's gun that killed Hall.

As many as five people had been held hostage inside the home since Saturday. Two children were released Sunday, and two others - including a 9-month-old baby - were freed Monday, shortly before police said they had secured the home.

"This was a very scary and intense situation," Orange County Sheriff Kevin Beary said.

On Saturday, Petron burst into the home and took the people hostage. He apparently did not know the family. About 20 homes in the subdivision were evacuated when the incident began. Nearly 100 federal, state and local law enforcement officers were stationed around the home, which is located less than 10 miles east of Disney World.

The home belongs to Hall's sister, Thelma Mills, who escaped shortly after the standoff began. Hall was visiting the family. Mills' son, Norman West, 28, was shot but escaped Saturday, and he was in good condition Monday.

A SWAT team first entered the house around noon Monday and discovered Hall's body in the kitchen, police said. The SWAT team quietly secured the house for three hours while Petron barricaded himself in the master bedroom.

Petron eventually shot himself in the chest and was found dead at 3:15 p.m., police said. When Petron killed himself, hostage Althea Mills, 16, was hiding in the bedroom's walk-in closet, holding the 9-month-old baby and talking with police on the phone, Foreman said.

"Through most of this ordeal, the 16-year-old was taking care of the baby. The family should be proud of her, said Orange County Sheriff's Lt. Al Rodrigues, a hostage negotiator.

Petron, suspected in the Friday shooting death of a Pompano Beach convenience store clerk, allegedly fled to the house after shooting a sheriff's deputy in the leg as the deputy tried to arrest him.

Petron spoke with negotiators, but police had said they were concerned because of his broken promises and lack of demands. Police negotiators tried blaring sirens to keep him awake Monday and intermittently cut the power to the home.

After two children, Nicholas Hall, 8, and his 11-month-old sister, Nicolette, were released Sunday, Petron had said he would free the remaining hostages after the tape of a statement he made was aired on television.

On the tape, Petron said he didn't mean to hurt anyone."All I can say is dep in my heart I am really apologetic. Don't think I'm the devil. I'm not the devil," he said.

After Petron stopped answering the phone early Monday, police used a robot with a built-in speaker and microphone to try to communicate with him.

Petron became agitated and opened fire on the robot but missed, Orange County sheriff's spokesman Jim Solomons said. Solomons said the robot recorded some of the hostages crying and one of the hostages screaming, "He's going to kill me."

Petron continued negotiating with police after a SWAT officer shot at him Sunday but missed.

"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."

Police said Petron warned negotiators several times over the 51-hour standoff that it would be coming to an end. He told police everything would be over in 20 minutes then shot himself 15 minutes later, authorities said.

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 in 1995.

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