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California SWAT team rescues
13-year-old kidnap victim
[Ontario, CA]

December 10, 2000
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California SWAT team rescues
13-year-old kidnap victim
[Ontario, CA]

ONTARIO, Calif.) -- A police SWAT team rescued a 13-year-old boy Saturday who had been held hostage in an Ontario hotel by a federal police officer who had kidnapped him 24 hours earlier and had allegedly sexually abused him last summer.

A short time later, David Leonard Clairmont, 32, was found dead in a tear gas-filled hotel bathroom after an exchange of gunfire with Ontario police.

The teenage hostage was reported to be unharmed in the rescue, which ended a standoff at the Country Suites hotel near the Ontario Mills shopping mall, about 35 miles east of Los Angeles.

"He has no injuries, and he's in really good spirits," his father told reporters.

The boy was snatched at gunpoint early Friday morning from a school bus stop near his home in Bermuda Dunes in front of startled classmates and parents.

Clairmont, an officer with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in Los Angeles, was due to appear Monday in Riverside County Superior Court to face three felony charges related to sex crimes with the boy.

Authorities said it appeared that Clairmont had killed himself, but did not rule out the possibility that he had been fatally wounded by officers.

Earlier, police negotiators had tried to talk him into surrendering and Clairmont had told officers he was "trying to get up the nerve" to give up, said Sgt. Mark Lohman, a spokesman for the Riverside County Sheriff's Department.

On Friday, Clairmont eluded the California Highway Patrol after fleeing with the boy on Interstate 10. When he checked into the Ontario hotel late Friday morning, he was reportedly still in the federal police uniform he had been wearing when he kidnapped the boy.

A hotel clerk who helped register Clairmont called police shortly after 10 p.m. when she returned home and saw a television news report detailing the search for the kidnapper, said Ontario Police Det. Michael Caldera.

Police began negotiating with Clairmont to surrender about 2:30 a.m. Saturday. But at 7:15 a.m., he broke off negotiations.

Shortly before 9 a.m., officers said, they broke into Clairmont's first-floor room and discovered he had barricaded himself in the bathroom with the boy. After police began pumping tear gas under the door, someone--either Clairmont or the boy--opened it and SWAT team members were able to grab the boy, officers said.

After that, events unfolded "in a matter of seconds--boom, boom, boom," according to Ontario Police Det. Mike Macias.

The SWAT team rushed the boy to a nearby room and lifted him through a window to officers waiting outside. As the officers retreated with the boy, Macias said, they heard shots from the direction of the bathroom. Police returned fire.

Police outside the hotel carried the boy to a parking lot, where he was treated for eye irritation from the tear gas. Meanwhile, officers inside stormed the bathroom and found Clairmont dead on the floor, a handgun at his side.

"The one gunshot wound officers could see was a head shot consistent with a close-contact wound that we see in suicides," Macias said.

The boy was later taken to San Antonio Community Hospital, where he was found to be in good condition, the officer added.

Clairmont had allegedly sexually abused the boy when they both lived in the same Riverside apartment complex last summer, Lohman said. The boy and his family moved to Bermuda Dunes after the incident, according to Lohman.

Police said Clairmont had a background as a military police officer and previously lived in San Luis Obispo. He was reportedly on leave from his federal job.

Ontario police evacuated a first-floor area of the hotel during the standoff. But some guests were jolted by the SWAT operation Saturday morning.

A 13-member children's baseball team in Ontario for an age-9-and-under all-star game had noticed police activity but was assured by the hotel there was nothing to worry about.

The San Diego Diamonds and members of their families were in the hotel restaurant having breakfast when a SWAT officer came through with his gun drawn. "Everyone's jaws dropped. We stopped eating and went back upstairs," assistant coach Mark Bromley said. Team members later smelled faint traces of tear gas.

Police Police Rescue Kidnapped Teenager; Crime: A Swat Team Retrieves The Boy From An Ontario Hotel Bathroom. The Kidnapper Is Found Dead.
Jason Song, Times Staff Writer
December 10, 2000, Sunday, Home Edition
Copyright 2000 / Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
December 10, 2000, Sunday, Home Edition
Terms and Conditions
Copyright(c) 2000 LEXIS-NEXIS, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.
All rights Reserved.

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