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One hostage still hospitalized after deadly Louisiana bank standoff

By Kathy Finn

NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) - A woman remained hospitalized on Wednesday after being held hostage and shot by a gunman in a 12-hour standoff at a rural Louisiana bank that ended when police stormed in, killing the gunman.

The other hostage shot by the gunman died following the incident, which stretched from Tuesday into early Wednesday at a bank in St. Joseph, Louisiana, a town of fewer than 1,200 people about 220 miles north of New Orleans, said State Police Sergeant Eric Cuenca.

A U.S. police SWAT team stormed Tensas State Bank shortly after midnight, killing the gunman, identified as 20-year-old Fuaed Abdo Ahmed, said State Police spokesman Albert Paxton.

The gunman had been threatening to kill one or both of his hostages, and shot them when police entered the building. Police then shot and killed him, Paxton said.

"He was angry and he wanted to kill hostages," Paxton said of the gunman, who initially took three bank employees hostage but released one woman after several hours.

The two wounded hostages were rushed to local hospitals but one of them later died, said State Police Sergeant Eric Cuenca.

The other, who was listed in critical condition, remained hospitalized on Wednesday, said Charla Ducote, spokeswoman for Rapides Regional Medical Center in Alexandria, Louisiana.

Ducote declined further comment.

The names of the hostages were not immediately released.

Ahmed was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia and had complained of hearing voices, police said. The gunman's family owned a convenience store in the town.

He had intended to take hostages from the beginning, police said. They found a book on hostage negotiations at his apartment.

"This was not a bank robbery," State Police Colonel Mike Edmonson told reporters in a video posted on the website of the Monroe, Louisiana News Star newspaper. "He actually had a book for negotiations... and knew exactly how the negotiations would take place, the questions he would be asked."

Ahmed was the California-born son of Yemeni parents. Police said there was no indication of any link to recent threats of attacks on the United States originating from Yemen.

"We don't have any reason to believe there was any connection," Paxton said.

The United States earlier this month temporarily shut about 20 of its embassies and consulates in the Middle East and Africa, including its embassy in Yemen, and U.S. nationals were told to leave that country after U.S. officials said they picked up information about unspecified terrorist threats.

On his Facebook page, Ahmed repeatedly quotes passages from ancient Chinese texts known for their peaceful, meditative content. He also cites connections to University of Louisiana at Monroe and Louisiana State University, and notes taking a trip to Dubai in June.

(Additional reporting and writing by Barbara Goldberg)

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