02/20/2007

Fire erupts as Md. gunman takes over shop, fires at police

The Associated Press

FREDERICK, Md. — Fire engulfed a liquor store in a shopping center Monday just moments after a gunman barricaded inside began negotiating with police.

The gunman is believed to have died in the fire, but his body was not immediately recovered, said Lt. Thomas Chase, a spokesman for the Frederick Police Department. No other injuries were reported.

Police identified the gunman as James Douglas, 29, of Frederick, saying that the clerk recognized him and that he responded to that name during negotiations.

The gunman entered Jim's liquor store in the Antietam Village Shopping Center shortly before 1 p.m. and ordered a clerk to leave, Chase said. The clerk ran to a neighboring store and called police. When officers arrived moments later, they were fired at but not injured.

Frederick police had contacted the man by phone and were negotiating with him when the fire started about 3 p.m., Chase said. The fire spread to neighboring stores and sent dark clouds of billowing smoke over the western Maryland city. The other stores in the mall were evacuated.

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