Police shot and killed a gunman who took a 74-year-old woman hostage after he was foiled in an attempt to steal $1 million in jewelry from the Liberace Museum here.
“I just tried to stay cool,” said hostage Margaret Bloomberg, who escaped unharmed in Sunday evening’s incident.
“The man had a bag of tools, including a crowbar, and was going to smash into the jewelry case,” said Dora Liberace, administrator of the museum and sister-in-law of the late entertainer. “He wanted the jewelry and he came prepared to take it.”
Bloomberg had worked at the museum 10 years and was closing the office Sunday evening when the bandit appeared, saying he wanted to deliver a plant, Dora Liberace said.
The man produced a gun, forced his way into the museum, and demanded the jewelry, refusing offers of money, Bloomberg said.
When the man barged in, Bloomberg called to a cleaning woman, who slipped out a back door and called police.
The gunman, identified as Hugh Perry, 47, of Las Vegas, bound and gagged Bloomberg.
“He was getting ready to pop the jewelry case when he heard a noise outside,” Bloomberg recalled. “He went and saw the police. I told him I’d get him out the back door. When we tried that, police were there, too.”
The culprit walked out the front door with a gun pointed at the bound hostage.
“He told police he would shoot me if they didn’t let him get to his car,” she recalled. “I just tried to stay cool.”
“She just sat down on the sidewalk, pretending her legs had collapsed under her,” Dora Liberace said. “He tried to lift her in the car but couldn’t. He leaned back for a minute and the police shot him.”
“When I sat down I figured the police would pick him off, maybe,” Bloomberg said.
Bloomberg, somewhat shaken and her hands still marked by the ropes, was back at work Monday.
“I thought I was better off working than staying at home and dwelling on it,” she said.