Child shot in hostage drama

LAST UPDATED: 14 Jun, 2007 @ 10:44
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Seven people, including 11 year old child, rushed to hospital with bullet wounds during running gun battle that led to family being held hostage by gunman

A FAMILY was held hostage at gunpoint after an armed robbery left seven people in hospital with bullet wounds.

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In scenes reminiscent of the Wild West, an 11-year-old boy was among those injured during a shoot out between police and two armed raiders in Motril.

Four police officers and a passer by were also hurt in the incident, which took place in the centre of town.
According to police reports, two robbers – Jeronimo Arnay, 66, and Jose Manuel Espada, 56 – entered Caja Granada bank shortly after 1pm.

Terrified customers were told to “behave normally” as the pair – who are believed to be behind a robbery at Hotel Almuñecar Playa on June 3 – stole 7,000 euros at gunpoint.

However, the cashier managed to raise the alarm and within minutes, two officers arrived at the bank to arrest the gunmen.

But as they tried to apprehend the gunmen, one of them was shot in the neck and seriously injured, while the other was shot in the thigh.

A passer-by was hit in the stomach.

The two gunmen managed to escape on foot after a second shoot out metres from the bank, which left a further two police officers with gunshot wounds.

Chase

Four plain clothes policemen, a civil guard and an officer from the Policía Nacional gave chase along Calle Antillas in a running gun battle.

A witness told the Olive Press how a member of the public helped police locate both Arnay and Espada.

The former was arrested after being shot in the chest and hand close to the town’s bus station – one kilometre from the bank.

He was taken to hospital in Motril before being transferred to Albolote prison, near Granada.

“A woman shouted down from the balcony of her house where the bank raiders had run. They kept on shooting at the police,” the witness said.

In the exchange of gun fire, a stray bullet grazed the thigh of an 11-year-old boy.

He was released from hospital later the same day after being treated for superficial burns.

Hostages

However, the drama continued when Espada forced his way into a house on nearby Calle Buen Pastor and held the occupants – a family of six – captive for two hours.

He was later arrested when he left the house in a change of clothes he had obtained from one of his hostages.

The 56-year-old has previous convictions for drug trafficking and the illegal possession of explosives.

One of the those held hostage Yolanda Estévez, 27, described the moment when the kidnapper entered their home and she was forced into the living room at gunpoint.

“He came in through a door with a gun in his hand. I asked him what he was doing and he said ‘I have done something very bad. I have to hide somewhere.’

“He then pointed the gun in my back and told all the family to go into the living room,” the supermarket cashier said.

Yolanda, her parents, sister, brother and three-year-old nephew were then forced to sit in silence while the raider counted the stolen money.

“He repeated how he was not going to hurt any of us. In a Madrid accent he said: ‘I am not going to make any of you do anything you do not want to’,” she recalled.

“We were held hostage for two hours but it felt more like 40. It was an eternity.

“He used our bathroom and forced us to get him cold drinks from the refrigerator,” she said.

Police believe Espada, who had absconded when he was on a five-day release licence from the Alcalá Meco prison in Madrid, entered the house through an open garage door.

The Olive Press can reveal Arnay is wanted in Switzerland in connection with the fatal 1984 shooting of a policeman during a gun battle following his escape from prison in that county.


He was serving a jail term for drugs offences when he and a fellow Spanish national managed to escape from Bochuz prison after taking a guard hostage.

Police confiscated 7,000 euros in cash and two 38 calibre pistols following the arrest of the two men.

Judges in Motril remanded the two men in custody without bail on charges of robbery with violence and intimidation, attempted murder and the possession of illegal firearms.

Espada was also charged with false imprisonment.

Police are waiting to question the men in connection with armed robberies at the Hotel Almuñecar Playa and three robberies at banks in Madrid, El Ejido and Almería last month.

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