Gunman dies after 14-hour Neb. pharmacy standoff

A gunman who held a pharmacy owner hostage at his store in rural western Nebraska is dead after a 14-hour standoff, the Nebraska State Patrol said early Wednesday.

A Box Butte County Sheriff's deputy holds an assault rifle while responding to a call of "shots fired, officer down" Tuesday, June 12, 2012, in Alliance, Neb. (AP Photo/Alliance Times-Herald, Mark Dykes)

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A gunman who held a pharmacy owner hostage at his store in rural western Nebraska is dead after a 14-hour standoff, the Nebraska State Patrol said early Wednesday.

The gunman, 27-year-old Andres Gonzales, died after a shoot-out with Nebraska State Patrol SWAT team members at the pharmacy in Alliance, patrol spokeswoman Deb Collins said in a statement.

None of the SWAT officers were injured. Gonzales earlier shot two city police officers and a state patrol officer, but none of them suffered life-threatening injuries, Nebraska State Patrol Lt. Lance Rogers said.

The statement did not explain how Gonzales, of Alliance, died.

The standoff began Tuesday morning when Gonzales entered the Thiele Pharmacy & Gifts in downtown Alliance, a Nebraska Panhandle city of about 8,600 people. Authorities said police officers responded to reports of a robbery.

Gonzales took the pharmacy's owner, 62-year-old Charles Lierk, hostage for hours, Collins said. Lierk managed to escape but was shot as he ran and is in stable condition, Collins said. Police and the state patrol did not say who shot Lierk.

Ray Hielscher told the Lincoln Journal Star that he was watching the pharmacy from a Radio Shack across the street and saw the hostage run out about 5:30 p.m. Hielscher said he heard shots as the hostage ran out the front door and made it to nearby police.

Separately, police found a body at a nearby home Tuesday but declined to say whether it was related to the standoff. Police don't know how that person died, Rogers said.

The standoff prompted police to close off several blocks of downtown Alliance, whose residents were shaken by the drama.

"When we woke this morning in the best hometown in America, little did anyone in our wildest dreams foresee what would transpire today," said Mayor Fred Feldges.

Alliance lies about 370 miles west Omaha and 190 miles from Denver.

Alliance Police Chief John Kiss said the gunman shot officers Matt Shannon, 35, and Kirk Felker, 43. Shannon was treated at Box Butte General Hospital and released. Felker also was taken to the hospital and was recovering, Kiss said.

Later, state trooper Tim Flick, 37, was wounded. He remained hospitalized Tuesday night.

Earlier in the day, Dixie Nelson, director of the Alliance Chamber of Commerce, said she looked out the window of her office across the street from the pharmacy after an employee heard a gunshot.

Nelson said she saw a police officer who had been shot outside the pharmacy. It appeared the shot was fired through the glass on the store's door or window.

"He was shot in the arm. I could see. Either his upper forearm or bicep area," Nelson said.

___

Associated Press writers M. David Nichols in Chicago; Scott McFetridge and Nelson Lampe in Omaha; and Melanie Welte in Des Moines, Iowa, contributed to this report.
Associated Press
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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