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Archbishop Says Hostage-Taker Threatened Murder-Suicide

From Associated Press

An unemployed man from El Salvador who took the state’s top-ranking Roman Catholic clergyman hostage allegedly threatened to kill them both if the archbishop didn’t help him obtain papers about his immigration status.

“If you do not assist me in getting what I need, then I will commit suicide and I will kill you,” the man said, according to Archbishop Patrick Flores.

The man threatened to detonate a hand grenade, but it turned out the device had no powder and could not be ignited.

The 70-year-old archbishop, who was pushed to the ground at the beginning of Wednesday’s nine-hour standoff but was not hurt, spent the night in a hospital for observation and was released Thursday afternoon.

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Speaking at a news conference about two hours later, Flores at times cracked jokes to the delight of relatives and chancery workers seeing him for the first time since the ordeal. Asked how he felt, he replied, “I’m alive,” and his eyes welled with tears.

Flores said the hostage-taker was distraught over being deported in December.

The man told Flores that, although he has lived in the United States for 25 years and is married to a U.S. citizen, he was deported for a 15-year-old marijuana possession charge.

Nelson Antonio Escolero, 40, surrendered Wednesday night after police faxed him the immigration papers he was demanding. He was charged with two counts of aggravated kidnapping and was being held at the Bexar County Jail in lieu of $2-million bond.

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