Post office hostage ordeal ends with man’s arrest

By Calvin Palmer

An armed man pushing a wheelchair believed to be laden with explosives  took several people hostage today at a post office in a rural town in Virginia.

Shots were fired and police cordoned off a three-block area in Wytheville. A SWAT team, including a bomb technician, has been sent to the incident.

The incident occurred at 2:30 p.m. when the downtown area was crowded with holiday shoppers and ended eight hours later when police took the man into custody and released the three hostages.

Warren Gator, of Tennessee, was arrested.

The Mayor of Wytheville, Trent Crewe, said, “We cannot confirm any explosives.” He added that the gunman’s motive was unclear.

Postal worker Walt Korndorfer told reporters he was in the Main Street Post Office when he heard shots and a co-worker ran past. He followed.

A U.S. Postal Service spokesman said the man made no demands other than to ask for a pizza.

Reports also suggested the man is a former U.S. Marine, although details about him are limited.

State Police Sergeant M.T. Conroy told reporters that the man had pushed the wheelchair into the building but it was unclear for what purpose.

Wytheville is the county seat of Wythe County, in southwest Virginia.

[Based on reports by the Associated Press, KWTX, WGME and AFP.]

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