A woman demanding to be taken to South America shot her way aboard a Pan Am jetliner yesterday, wounding an airline employe, then held four hostages for more than six hours before being shot and wounded as police stormed the Boeing 727, officials said.
All of the hostages were freed unharmed.
The woman, armed with a pistol, took seven hostages when she commandeered the plane at Hopkins International Airport about 3 p.m. EST and released three of them at 6 p.m. She held an elderly couple and a mother with her 8-month-old baby at gunpoint until the police assault about 9:25 p.m., FBI special agent Joseph Griffin said.
Police and FBI agents moved in after the woman, identified as Ornetta Mays, 42, of Cleveland, indicated that "she was tired, it was all over," Griffin said.
The woman, who returned fire during the assault, was hospitalized, and her condition was listed as critical with a gunshot wound to the chest. She had told officials that she wanted to go to Rio de Janeiro but did not say why, Griffin said.
The woman tried to bypass metal detectors at the airport concourse but was challenged by security guards, said Dan Jones of Pritchard, the company that operates the detectors.
She drew a handgun and ran 50 yards to the plane with at least three Cleveland police officers in pursuit, Jones said.
Mothers with babies were boarding as the woman ran aboard, and about two to four shots were fired, authorities said.
USAir customer service agent Jeanette Rivera, 32, of Bay Shore, N.Y., was shot as she tried to prevent the woman from boarding, officials said. Rivera was reported in fair condition with a superficial hip wound.
About 35 passengers escaped through a rear door, Griffin said, and one said the woman paid them little attention during the orderly evacuation.