A hostage who escaped a gunman during a standoff at an Alliance pharmacy Tuesday was taken to a hospital for his wounds, officials said.
The gunman's standoff continued.
Officials did not release the nature of the hostage's wounds or his identity at a news conference, but they did update the number of law enforcement officers injured during the incident to three, including one state trooper and two police officers.
Ray Hielscher, who was observing the situation at Thiele Pharmacy from a Radio Shack across the street, said that at about 5:30 p.m. the hostage ran out the front door and down the block to safety.
Hielscher said he heard shots being fired from inside the pharmacy as the hostage ran.
"We believe he's OK now," Hielscher said.
The gunman remained inside the store, where he continued to be holed up at 10 p.m. as hostage negotiators surrounded the building. Officials said it appears he has a high-powered rifle, and they have used robots to peer into the store.
The three injured officers are Kirk Felker, 43, Alliance police, who is recovering from non-life-threatening wounds in Box Butte General Hospital; Tim Flick, 37, State Patrol, who is being treated for gunshot wounds to the left side of his body and is in serious but stable condition; and Matt Shannon, 35, Alliance police, who was treated and released for shrapnel wounds, officials said.
The standoff may have begun when someone was killed near a mobile home court earlier Tuesday, a city official said. However, officials at the news conferences Tuesday would not confirm the connection or discuss details of that crime scene.
But J.D. Cox, city manager of Alliance, said authorities are investigating the killing of a person that likely is related to the standoff at Thiele Pharmacy and Gifts. Authorities cordoned off the area near the mobile home court.
The standoff began shortly before 10 a.m., when a heavily armed man entered the pharmacy. Not long after, police entered the pharmacy, and two shots were fired, one wounding a police officer in the arm, Cox said.
Police, sheriff’s deputies, patrol troopers and SWAT team members surrounded the pharmacy Tuesday morning, Cox said.
“The story’s still unfolding,” he said.
He said patrol negotiators were talking to the armed man, and authorities had locked down two blocks around the pharmacy, as well as banks, city hall, the library, swimming pool and hospital.
Hielscher, franchise owner of the Radio Shack, said he learned of the situation shortly after 10 a.m. when the Chamber of Commerce called him to tell him to lock his doors.
He said he looked outside to see two police officers pulling a third away from the front of Redman’s Shoes just north across the street. They dragged him down the street to an ambulance, Hielscher said.
“All heck broke loose,” he said. “We had officers everywhere.”
He said SWAT team members entered a Job Service building south of the pharmacy. A SWAT vehicle was parked down the street in front of a bank, he said.
Hielscher was taking photos of the scene Tuesday. He said the pharmacy usually opens at 10 a.m., but the store’s owner, Charles Lierk, usually opens up before then.
He said Lierk employs two or three pharmacy technicians and one clerk.
Michael Bamesberger contributed to this story.