Hostages Freed at School; 65 Hurt by Bomb

From Times Wire Services

A heavily armed couple held 150 elementary schoolchildren and their teachers hostage for $300 million Friday, but were killed when the woman reportedly triggered a bomb and the man apparently shot himself.

Injured children ran screaming from Cokeville Elementary School as smoke poured from the windows, but none was reported killed.

"We have been told there are no fatalities of any of the children," said Robin Sperling of Afton, Wyo., radio station KRSV, who arrived before the explosion. "All the injuries appear to be minor. All the children appear to be out."

At least 65 people, most of them children, suffered second-degree burns in the gasoline-bomb blast. A male teacher, not immediately identified, was reportedly shot in the back. He was taken to Bannock Regional Medical Center in Pocatello, Ida., for surgery.

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

Police Chief Callan Frederickson said more bombs were found in the school, and federal agents from Salt Lake City were removing the bombs by dragging them out with wires.

Ambulances took the injured to hospitals in the area, and medical crews were at the scene to treat victims with burns and cuts. Some of the young victims lay on the ground crying in pain as frantic parents and relatives crowded around.

It was, in the words of Kemmerer (Wyo.) radio station KMER reporter Ken Rand, "a scene of carnage, with many people lying on the ground in blankets."

Attendants at Bear Lake Hospital in Montpelier, Ida., said about a dozen children arrived there by ambulance and more were expected. South Lincoln Hospital in Kemmerer was told to prepare for some of the injured.

'Some Hurt Pretty Bad'

"Some kids were hurt pretty bad, and others just (received) minor burns," said Scott Frederickson, son of the Cokeville police chief. "It did some pretty good damage to the school."

One of the children injured was reported to be the couple's stepdaughter, a sixth-grader.

Lincoln County Sheriff T. Deb Wolfley said the man made demands that had "something to do with the government. He's against the system. He's a radical."

Nadine Dana, an employee in the town clerk's office, said a girl appeared there at about 1 p.m. and said her father was "going to blow up the school." The girl reportedly said there was "a lot of ammunition . . . bombs, rifles, stuff like that."

The couple reportedly herded the children and teachers into one large room, demanding $2 million ransom for each hostage. The man told police he had "ample explosives," Cokeville High School Principal Dale Lamborn said.

Witnesses said the man passed out leaflets and demanded to talk to President Reagan.

'This Is a Revolution'

Teacher Christine Cook said Young walked into her classroom and said: "This is a revolution. We're taking over the school.

"I have guns and this is a bomb," he told her. "As you can see, it's very easy to set off. I have a clothes pin here. If I take this piece of wood out it will blow up."

About three hours later, the woman was killed when the bomb reportedly went off in her hands, and the man then shot himself as Elementary School Principal Max Excell and others looked on, he said in an interview with KCNC-TV in Denver.

The woman 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 (the bomb) went off," Excell said. "The classroom was demolished. I don't know how they got out alive."

"There is a mass of confusion in Cokeville," Sperling reported. "Parents, grandparents and friends were all in the area when the bomb went off. It is just chaotic . . . with smoke coming out of the school . . . . "

Times staff writer Jack Jones in Los Angeles contributed to the preparation of this article.

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