Standoff at Atlantic City casino ends peacefully

Posted: Updated:

A masked man who claimed to be armedheld police at bay from a shuttle bus outside a casino for nearlysix hours before letting his hostages go and surrenderingpeacefully early Wednesday, police said. During the standoff, the man told authorities he was armed andblamed the Showboat Casino-Hotel for the suicide of his brother,who he said had a bad gambling problem, according to a person withknowledge of the standoff who spoke on condition of anonymitybecause he was not authorized by law enforcement to release theinformation. The man, who was not identified, was ordered by FBI agents tostrip down and complied at about 4:24 a.m., said state police Sgt.Stephen Jones. "He just gave up peacefully," Jones said. No gun was immediately found. Atlantic City Police Chief John J. Mooney said Showboat securitycalled police shortly after 10:30 p.m. to report there was a man ona shuttle bus with a gun. The driver fled after scuffling with the man, Mooney said, and apassenger also escaped. Three other people who remained on the buswere released a short time later. There were no injuries. Jones said the suspect, who had what police believed was anexplosive device strapped to his body, had planted asuspicious-looking device in a men's room inside the casino nearthe House of Blues night club, but it was later determined to be ahoax device. Police K-9 teams swept the casino and the hotel and did not findanything else suspicious, Jones said. The casino, which had beenclosed down during the standoff, was allowed to reopen shortlyafter 5 a.m. Acting Atlantic City Mayor William Marsh said a robot delivereda cell phone to the bus shortly after the standoff began so policecould communicate with the man. The man demanded money, Marsh said, but it was not certain howmuch. He also had offered to surrender if allowed to drive the vanto his relatives' home and speak with them first - a request policerejected. Alyce Parker, a spokeswoman for Harrah's Entertainment, whichowns the Showboat, said the bus was a shuttle that runs betweenHarrah's four properties in the coastal gambling resort. Tony Demetro, of Atlantic City, who was playing blackjack, saidShowboat staff fanned out across the casino floor around 11 p.m.and asked everyone to leave the tables and walk outside. "They locked down all the tables, covered them with plasticcovers and asked everybody to leave. It was pretty calm," he said. Demetro said the Showboat sent hotel guests to the nearby TrumpTaj Mahal Casino Resort, where they were temporarily put up in aballroom. But not everyone made it there. Doris Kinsler of Lynchburg Va.was with her husband and two other relatives in their room on the15th floor of the Showboat hotel, watching television the entirenight. No one told them to evacuate, or that there was anypotential danger, she said. "I am mad as hell, and I don't care who knows about it," shesaid. "If this place blew up, we would have gone with it."

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