Hostages Safe, Gunman Shoots Self In Standoff

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A gunman took six employees hostage at a Gardnerville pharmacy Friday and fired shots in the air before he turned the gun on himself and committed suicide, sheriff's deputies said.

There was no harm to the pharmacist or five other employees who were held hostage during the standoff with law officers for about 90 minutes, Douglas County sheriff's deputies said.

The man was armed with a shotgun and a handgun when he entered the Carson Valley Pharmacy at about 3:30 p.m., the Record-Courier newspaper of Gardnerville reported. Surrounding offices and buildings were evacuated as law officers trained their guns on the pharmacy in the Stratton Center shopping area.

Deputies said the gunman was suicidal and that he apparently shot himself. They said he was declared dead at the scene shortly after 5 p.m.

The gunman's identity was not immediately released. Investigators said they don't know why the man took the hostages.

Debbie Goodlander, a pharmacy clerk who was one of the hostages, told the Reno Gazette-Journal that they recognized the gunman as a customer. She said he asked for Xanax, a tranquilizer. They gave him the drugs, which he took, and then he told them he wanted to kill himself, she said.

"He just came in and he said he wanted us all on the ground. And that it was a robbery. He had a shotgun and a handgun," Goodlander said.

"He took a whole bunch of pills with water. He shot the guns into the air because he wanted to show us he meant business," she said. "He said he didn't want anyone to get hurt."

The gunman then released two hostages, including Goodlander and pharmacy owner Jim Stratton, 74, she told the Gazette-Journal.

He later released Stratton's son, Dan Stratton, 50, asking him to return with cigarettes.

"Dan was so calm. He saved all his employees. He kept saying: `Just keep me and let everyone else go,'" Goodlander said.

Douglas County Sheriffs Sgt. Tom Mezzetta said Stratton was not allowed to return.

The standoff temporarily closed U.S. Highway 395.

One hostage, a female employee, hid in the store until the ordeal ended and apparently the gunman did not know she was there, Mezzetta said.