Gunman gives up hostages at post office in San Diego

Thursday, May 29, 2003

LAKESIDE, Calif.-- A man angry with the postal service over a traffic accident stormed into a post office with a gun Wednesday and took two employees hostage for several hours before surrendering, authorities said.

The gunman released the hostages after officers delivered a six-pack of Dr Pepper to him, using a long stick to pass the soda through a door.

Soon afterward, the man, shirtless and wearing long shorts, walked out with his arms raised and surrendered to officers, who led him to a patrol car.

No shots were fired and there were no reports of injuries during the siege in this community 25 miles northeast of downtown San Diego.

The gunman entered the post office shortly before 3 p.m. and took two male employees hostage, said Chris Saunders, a San Diego County sheriff's spokesman.

The gunman, whose name was not immediately released, had "a beef with the postal service" over its response to an accident involving a postal vehicle, Saunders said. San Diego postal inspector Jody Kowahl said the gunman was not an employee of the postal service.

Jackie Meeks told KNSD-TV that she saw a man with a large rifle enter the post office through a back door.

"Two guys came out of the back door and told me not to go in there," Meeks explained. The gunman "jumped up on top of the counter with a gun. We took off and called the cops."

Deputies armed with assault weapons took positions around the single-story building, and authorities blocked off surrounding streets. Local television stations stopped broadcasting live images of the post office at the request of authorities, who were concerned the gunman would be able to monitor their movements.

Dozens of children were kept inside a nearby day care center during the standoff until about 6 p.m., when authorities escorted them from the scene. The youngest were wheeled away in cribs.

Lakeside is an unincorporated community of 56,225 people.

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