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Hostage taker facing charges
Gunman says he planned to kill presidents
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SAVANNAH — A former soldier accused of demanding mental treatment as he took hostages at gunpoint at a Georgia Army hospital later told investigators he planned to kill President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton, federal prosecutors said in court documents filed Tuesday.
Federal charges filed in U.S. District Court in Savannah identified the accused gunman as Robert Anthony Quinones, 29. The Army says he took three hospital workers hostage early Monday in a two-hour standoff at Winn Army Community Hospital at Fort Stewart. Army officials say the gunman surrendered and no one was injured.
Federal prosecutors charged Quinones with kidnapping and assault with deadly weapons in connection with the hospital hostage standoff. He was also charged with making threats to kill Obama and Clinton.
Court documents say Quinones told FBI, Secret Service and Army investigators after his arrest that as part of his assassination plots he had studied Secret Service protocols, sniper techniques and ways to disguise himself and conceal weapons.
Investigators said a search of the suspect’s home turned up at least 15 guns, including high-powered rifles with scopes, as well as books and DVDs on Secret Service protocols, Israeli sniper techniques, Osama Bin Laden and Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh.
An affidavit by FBI and Secret Service agents who interviewed Quinones, filed in court, says the suspect was asked if he would kill Obama and Clinton given a chance.
“Yes. On a scale of 1 to 10 about being serious, I am a 10,” Quinones responded, according to the affidavit.
The court documents say Quinones was discharged from the Army in February and worked a civilian job at Fort Stewart. No other details about his military service or employment were immediately available. He lived in Hinesville, a city neighbouring the post. A phone number for him was disconnected. It was not immediately known if he had an attorney or where he was in custody.
Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Phillips, a senior Fort Stewart commander, said the former soldier told hostages he needed help for mental problems “connected, I’m quite certain, to his past service.”
The suspect walked into the hospital’s emergency room at about 4 a.m. carrying two handguns, a semiautomatic rifle and a semiautomatic version of a submachine gun, Phillips said. He took a medic hostage and headed to the building’s behavioural treatment wing on the third floor.
An Army psychiatric nurse spotted the gunman and approached him to talk, Phillips said.  That nurse was then taken hostage along with a behavioural health technician who refused to allow the gunman through a locked door to the patient area.
Phillips said the nurse, an Army major, was able to start calming the gunman down before Army investigators trained in hostage negotiations arrived and persuaded him to drop his weapons and surrender.
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.
Fort Stewart, the largest Army post east of the Mississippi River, 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.
Phillips said he’d seen nothing to indicate Quinones had previously sought treatment at Winn.
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