74 Hurt as Bomb Rips School in Hostage Drama

Associated Press

A heavily armed couple took 150 students and adults hostage at an elementary school Friday and demanded $300 million, but the ordeal ended when a bomb exploded accidentally and the man shot himself to death, authorities said.

The woman was killed in the explosion.

Injured children ran screaming from Cokeville Elementary School as smoke poured from the windows.

At least 74 people, most of them children, suffered second-degree burns in the blast of the gasoline bomb about 4 p.m. A teacher was shot in the back when he tried to flee, officials said.

"I thought we were all dead," said secretary Christine Cook, who was in the classroom when the device exploded. "I heard this awful noise. It was smoke and flames. Just pandemonium."

The armed man gave the bomb to his wife to hold while he went to the bathroom, and she accidentally set off its hair-trigger mechanism, said Lincoln County Sheriff T. Deb Wolfley.

The man then shot himself, he said.

A search of the school after the explosion turned up two other explosive devices that were removed safely, Wolfley said.

The couple were identified as David Young and his wife, Doris. Residents said Young was a former police officer in the town of about 550 people.

Held in Classroom

The incident began about 1 p.m. when the Youngs entered the school and herded the children, teachers and administrators into a large classroom, Principal Max Excell said.

Meanwhile, a woman came into the town clerk's office and "said her father was going to blow up the school," said Nadine Dana, the clerk. The woman told Dana that there was "a lot of ammunition . . . bombs, rifles, stuff like that."

Police were questioning the unidentified woman Friday night.

Witnesses said Young passed out leaflets, demanded to talk with President Reagan and announced: "This is the revolution." The pair asked $2 million ransom for each of the hostages.

Young said he intentionally came to Cokeville to press his demands, Excell said.

"He told me he'd picked this town because it was a rural community and people take care of their children," the principal said. "He had it very well thought out."

The Youngs, who were in their late 40s, "behaved quite rationally most of the time," Excell said.

Surrounded by Children

Mrs. Young was surrounded by children when the bomb went off, said Bob Looney, a spokesman for the Lincoln County Sheriff's Department.

"They (the children) were all in the classroom when it went off," Excell said. "The classroom was demolished. I don't know how they got out alive."

Children and adults with burns on their faces and arms streamed from the school after the explosion "completely hysterical," said Corrine Fredrickson, wife of the town's police chief. Many children lay on the ground screaming.

"We heard an explosion, two gunshots (and saw) kids running in every direction," said Donna Morfeld, a parent.

About a dozen ambulances converged on the scene, and two school buses helped transport the injured.

There was "a great deal of smoke pouring from the windows of the elementary school," said Ken Rand, news director for KMER in Kemmerer, who was on the scene when the blast occurred.

11 Kept Overnight

At least 32 people suffering from second-degree burns to their faces and arms were taken to Bear Lake Memorial Hospital in Montpelier, Ida., about 30 miles from Cokeville, said Rod Jacobsen, hospital administrator. Only 11 were kept at the hospital overnight for treatment.

Forty-two others were treated at hospitals in Kemmerer and Afton, officials said.

Music teacher John Miller, 30, was shot in the shoulder as he tried to run down a hallway, Excell said. Miller ran about 200 yards before collapsing.

He was taken to Bannock Regional Medical Center in Pocatello, Ida., and was listed in stable condition, said Don Rogers, spokesman for the hospital.

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