Man Shot, Hostage Freed at Mexican Consulate

Times Staff Writers

A man who took a woman hostage at the Mexican Consulate in Los Angeles and dragged her from the building this morning was shot and wounded by police, authorities said.

The consulate, located west of downtown Los Angeles near MacArthur Park, and the adjacent blocks were evacuated. Police were conducting a floor-by-floor search of the building, but believed no one else was involved.

Part of the incident was captured on television cameras, which showed a man in black clutching a woman by the neck as officers approach on the sidewalk outside the consulate. Videotape taken by Telemundo shows at least one officer shooting the man, who falls backward on to the sidewalk. The terrified woman, a female clerk dressed in black pants an salmon-colored top, runs to another officer.

The suspect, who police said was from the San Fernando Valley, was taken to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center. The consulate employee was not harmed, officials said.

While in the building, the suspect yelled "Call 911. I want the media here" to consul officials, according to Police Chief William J. Bratton. The man had a large sign with him, but Bratton said the man's exact motive for taking a hostage is unclear, and investigators had not spoken to the suspect.

Police went to the building at about 8:30 a.m. The female employee who worked as a clerk in the consulate's notary department did not know the suspect, according to police and consulate officials.

"An individual went into the Mexican Consulate and took a hostage and brought her down," said Asst. Chief George Gascon. "A sergeant responded to the scene, found a suspect possibly armed with a female hostage in his grasp."

Police said they do not believe the incident was terrorist related. It was not clear whether the man was armed; the consulate is equipped with metal detectors and visitors are screened before they enter, police said.

"My colleague that was hostage is very well," said Consul General Ruben Beltran. "She is good. We are very happy…. Everybody is OK."

Times staff writer Jesus Sanchez handled rewrite.

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