Standoff Ends In Death
A tense standoff at the Pennsylvania's largest mental institution ended Friday morning with one of the hostages being killed and the second being wounded. The gunman was taken into custody, police said.
Dennis Czajkowski, a former nurse at Norristown State Hospital had held the hostages since Wednesday, shot and killed nursing supervisor Carol Kepner, state police spokesman Robert Whitbeck said.
Czajkowski shot a second hostage, Maria Jordan, who was flown to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Whitbeck said. She was in critical condition.
Czajkowski, 40, who apparently had been angry over being fired from his job, was taken away by medical helicopter with unspecified injuries. He also was in critical condition. Whitbeck said state police did not fire any shots at him, but the shootings occurred after authorities broke through a hospital window.
"He was terminated and the two women he is holding were part of that decision," Whitbeck said earlier Friday. "He specifically targeted at least Maria Jordan. We don't know whether he knew for sure whether Carol Kepner would be there."
Visibly shaken after the standoff ended badly, Whitbeck said that as of 8:45 a.m. ET Friday Czajkowski had become increasingly agitated. Police, who at that point could not see the gunman, decided to break in a window.
"Immediately on breaking one of the windows the subject opened fire," Whitbeck said.
The power had been shut down Thursday night and police negotiators worked round the clock talking to Czajkowski. But they said he didn't respond to conventional hostage-negotiation techniques. By this morning, he had apparently been awake for most if not all of the time since the standoff began around 10:45 a.m. ET Wednesday, police said.
Czajkowski had held the women in Jordan's office. Negotiators were in another room of the building, negotiating by phone.
The hospital's 650 patients were moved to safe quarters on Wednesday. Areas away from the nursing offices continued to operate normally Thursday for the most part, with workers showing up for their regular shifts.
CBS station KYW-TV in Philadelphia reports that there have been numerous complaints from nearby residents concerning security at Norristown State Hospital. Just last year a patient at the hospital left the grounds and tried to break into the home of a girl he had seen playing in a park near the facility.
The Philadelphia Inquirer Thursday quoted unidentified law-enforcement officials as saying Czajkowski has an extensive history of mental illness and drug use, and was upset over a recent breakup with a girlfriend. There is a warrant for his arrest in Upper Merion Township, the newspaper reported, but police would not comment about that.
The 118-year-old hospital, situated on 233 acres, has a locked area where the worst of the criminally insane are kept, and also serves the chronicallmentally ill. It has about 650 patients.
Neighbors have sought tighter security after dozens of patients walked away from the hospital without permission in the past two years.
for more features.