Hostage situation ends in Illinois; 2 suspects in custody

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014
SWAT team officers swarmed a home in Harvey Wednesday after a nearly 21-hour standoff with police.

HARVEY, Ill. -- The hostage situation in south suburban Harvey came to an end after a 20-hour standoff when two men were taken into police custody on Wednesday morning. No one was injured.

The final four hostages, two girls, ages 6 and 12, and two adult women, were escorted from the home in the 14700-block of Seely Avenue by heavily armed SWAT team members just minutes before the suspects were arrested at 9:30 a.m.

About 200 hundred officers from 20 different agencies were on the scene Wednesday. Police have evacuated homes nearby. They encourage residents in the surrounding area to stay inside their homes.

The first day of school has been cancelled for Rosa Parks Middle School, located one block from the scene. Thornton Township High School is open Wednesday, but students who live in the area of the standoff are not expected to attend. Mayor Eric Kellogg said buses that usually run through the scene are taking alternate routes. He also said crisis management teams have also been deployed to local schools to help students through the situation.

Cook County Sheriff's Office investigators and Illinois State Police officers were in constant contact with the suspects overnight, to negotiate the release of the four remaining hostages. Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said Wednesday morning that officers have spoken to everyone in the house at different times, and are confident that everyone is OK.

Harvey Police Department Spokesman Sean Howard said police are communicating with the offenders via bullhorn, shining lights into the home and periodically blaring sirens. Officers are being rotated on and off the scene every 4-5 hours.

"We wanted to ensure everybody remains up, at all times throughout the night," Howard said. "So when things get quiet, the sirens go off, just to ensure that people are alert inside. Not only them, but the hostages as well."

Officers responded to a burglary in progress Tuesday afternoon, after a neighbor called 911. Police said officers exchanged gunfire with at least one of the suspects at the scene.

Officer Darnell Keel, an 18-year veteran of the force, was wounded in the arm. He was taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn for treatment. As of early Wednesday morning, Keel was recovering at home with his family. A second officer was grazed by a bullet in the exchange, treated for the non-life threatening injury and released from a local hospital.

After the shootout, police said the suspects took eight people hostage. They released four young hostages throughout the day: two 1-year-old boys, a 2-year-old boy and an 11-year-old boy.

The boys were walked out by a female hostage, a nurse, who remains held inside the home Wednesday morning. The children were taken to a local hospital for observation and released to their families.

"There is also a nurse inside who we consider to be a hero," Howard said.

Dart said officers are committed to getting everyone out of the home safely and are hoping for a peaceful resolution.

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