A man armed with a Soviet AK-47 automatic weapon took 11 hostages at a military recruiting station Wednesday, declaring he wanted to promote "peace in Lebanon." At least seven hostages were released and no injuries were reported.
Originally, authorities believed three hostage takers were involved."He has claimed to have two friends with him, but at this point the feeling is very strong only one is involved," said county police Lt. Charles Schesventer.
The shopping center where the office is located was evacuated, incoming traffic was blocked and Henrico County's 15-member SWAT team was dispatched to the scene.
The office recruits for the Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force. Nine military personnel and two civilians were taken hostage. The first hostage released was a woman. The second man freed was a high school-age recruit.
A Navy enlisted man and another woman were released later, followed by three other hostages. All hostages were questioned by police.
The gunman gave the hostages coffee "which is a good sign," said police spokesman Sgt. Joe Sands.
The FBI sent several agents to the scene.
"We have several people out there already, we are just out there to assist them," said FBI special agent Kevin August. "I think the situation will probably be resolved by the Henrico County Police Department."
Police were in contact with the man by telephone and he wanted a statement read on a local radio station. Randy Davis of WRXL said a statement was read, but not one from the hostage taker.
"Henrico Police have requested that we read the following announcement," Davis said. "It is not station policy to do so. We are cooperating with authorities."