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One hostage still hospitalized after deadly Louisiana bank standoff

police
police

By Kathy Finn

NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) - A woman remained hospitalized in critical condition on Wednesday after being held hostage and shot by a gunman in a 12-hour standoff at a rural Louisiana bank, which left another hostage and the gunman dead.

A police SWAT team stormed the Tensas State Bank branch in St. Joseph, Louisiana, shortly after midnight, State Police spokesman Albert Paxton said.

He said the gunman, identified as 20-year-old Fuaed Abdo Ahmed, had been threatening to kill his hostages, and shot them when police entered the building. Police then shot and killed the gunman, Paxton said.

The town of fewer than 1,200 people is about 220 miles north of New Orleans.

"He was angry and he wanted to kill hostages," Paxton said. The gunman initially took three bank employees hostage but released one woman after several hours.

The hostages were rushed to hospital, and one later died, said State Police Sergeant Eric Cuenca. They were not identified.

The other hostage was in critical condition on Wednesday afternoon, said Charla Ducote, spokeswoman for Rapides Regional Medical Center in Alexandria, Louisiana.

Ahmed was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia and had complained of hearing voices, police said. His family owns a convenience store, Trak Food Store, in the town.

Police said Ahmed had intended to take hostages from the beginning, adding 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. "He actually had a book for negotiations ... and knew exactly how the negotiations would take place, the questions he would be asked."

Ahmed's Facebook page had meditative passages from ancient Chinese texts, and he cited connections to the University of Louisiana at Monroe and Louisiana State University, along with notes about a trip to Dubai in June.

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.

Earlier this month, the United States temporarily closed several of its embassies and consulates, including in Yemen, over security concerns.

"We don't have any reason to believe there was any connection," Paxton said.

Clyde Arnold, 64, who manages a grocery store near Tensas State Bank and Trak Food Store, said he was shocked by the incident.

"This is a very rural, quiet area, and nothing like this has ever happened here before," Arnold said. He said he had never met Ahmed or other members of the family.

(Additional reporting and writing by Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Mary Wisniewski, Toni Reinhold)

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