Dyersburg Hostage Situation: Gunman Claiming To Be Member of al-Quaida

September 17, 2003 - Posted at: 5:37 p.m. CDT

DYERSBURG, Tenn. -- Police in Dyersburg say a gunman holding a classroom of college students hostage has told authorities he's a member of al-Qaida.

Police said the suspect released four people several hours into the stand-off that began early this afternoon.

There aren't any injuries and no gunshots have been reported.  Authorities believe up to twelve people are still being held.

Police chief Bobby Williamson told reporters this evening that they're communicating with the gunman through student hostages on their cell phones.

Williamson said the gunman has not made any demands.

But he says he will kill himself.

The FBI has been called in because he claims to be a member of an international terrorist organization.

But Williams said authorities have no reason to believe the claim.

Police know the gunman, but wouldn't identify him except to say he's not a student or college employee.

They say they are talking to his sister on the scene.

Officials don't know his motive.

Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.