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Cops: Gunbattle ends 14-hour standoff in Nebraska pharmacy

ALLIANCE, Neb. -- A 14-hour standoff with a gunman at a pharmacy ended with the suspect's death, the Nebraska State Patrol said early Wednesday.

The dead suspect was identifed by police as 27-year-old Andres Gonzales, of Alliance.

A police statement did not say how Gonzales died. However, the death was confirmed following a gunbattle inside the pharmacy with Nebraska State Patrol SWAT team members. None of the SWAT officers was injured.

Nebraska State Patrol Lt. Lance Rogers said earlier that the gunman was wanted in connection with the shooting and wounding of two city police officers and a state patrol officer. None of their injuries is life-threatening.

The gunman also held a hostage for hours Tuesday in a western Nebraska drugstore. The hostage, identified Wednesday by Collins as pharmacy owner Charles Lierk, 62, of Alliance. Lierk managed to escape but was shot while getting away, Collins said. Lierk was taken to a local hospital where he was in stable condition, she said.

Rogers also said police found a body Tuesday in a nearby home but declined to say whether it is related to the standoff. Police don't know how that person died, Rogers said.

'Best hometown in America'
The standoff began Tuesday morning when the gunman entered the Thiele Pharmacy & Gifts in the center of downtown Alliance, a city of about 8,600 people.

"When we woke this morning in the best hometown in America, little did anyone in our wildest dreams foresee what would transpire today," Mayor Fred Feldges said.

Authorities said that officers responded after an apparent botched robbery.

More than 10 hours after the standoff started, Rogers described the scene as "very volatile," according to NBC station WOWT.

Alliance Police Chief John Kiss said the gunman shot officers Matt Shannon, 35, and Kirk Felker, 43.

Shannon was treated at Box Butte General Hospital and released. Felker also was taken to the hospital and was recovering, Kiss said.

Later, state trooper Tim Flick, 37, was wounded. He remained hospitalized Tuesday night. WOWT reported that Flick was a 15-year veteran of the state patrol.

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The standoff prompted police to close off several blocks of downtown Alliance throughout the day. Much of downtown remained blocked early Wednesday morning.

Ray Hielscher told the Lincoln Journal Star that he was watching the pharmacy from a Radio Shack across the street and saw the hostage run out about 5:30 p.m. local time (8:30 p.m. ET). Hielscher said he heard shots as the hostage ran out the front door and made it to safety to nearby police.

Earlier in the day, Dixie Nelson, director of the Alliance Chamber of Commerce, said she looked out the window of her organization's offices across the street from the pharmacy after an employee heard a gunshot.

"We had just come out of a staff meeting," Nelson said. "Our administrative assistant was walking up to the front, and she heard the shot."

Nelson said she saw a wounded police officer, who was shot in an arm while standing outside the pharmacy. It appeared the shot was fired through the glass on the store's door or window.

"He was shot in the arm. I could see. Either his upper forearm or bicep area," Nelson said.

Alliance is in the Nebraska Panhandle, about 370 miles west Omaha and 190 miles from Denver.

The Associated Press and NBC station WOWT contributed to this report.

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