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Army says ex-solder took 3 hospital workers hostage

SAVANNAH, Ga. — A former Army soldier seeking help for mental problems at a Georgia military hospital took three workers hostage at gunpoint Monday before authorities persuaded him to surrender.

No one was hurt and no shots were fired in the short standoff at Winn Army Community Hospital on Fort Stewart, about 40 miles southwest of Savannah, said fort spokesman Kevin Larson. Military officials said the hostages were able to calm the gunman and keep him from patients until he surrendered.

Military police arrested the gunman, who was being questioned Monday. His name was not immediately released.

Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Phillips, a senior Fort Stewart commander, said the former soldier was seeking help for mental problems that were "connected, I'm quite certain, to his past service."

"He hadn't gotten the care that he wanted and he wanted it now," Phillips said, based on what one of the hostages told him. "He'd had some experiences that could lead one to believe there were aftereffects to his service."

Both he and Larson declined to be more specific, citing the active investigation.

Because the suspect is a civilian and the standoff involved hostages on a federal installation, the FBI was called in to help with the investigation. It was unclear Monday what charges the man would face.

Fort Stewart is home to the 3rd Infantry Division. Most of the division's 19,000 soldiers are deployed to Iraq. It's the 3rd Infantry's fourth tour in Iraq since the war began in 2003.

Army says ex-solder took 3 hospital workers hostage 09/07/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 7, 2010 12:15am]
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