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Report: Hijackers Admit To Shooting

November 11, 1999

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) _ Two hijackers who have been living in exile in Cuba claim they shot and killed a New Mexico police officer in self-defense after he stopped them in a stolen car in 1971 near Albuquerque.

Charles Hill and Michael Finney claim officer Robert Rosenbloom was shot only after he went for his gun during the traffic stop, KOAT-TV reported Wednesday.

Hill and Finney were interviewed in Havana, where they have been living since the 1971 hijacking of TWA Flight 106 at Albuquerque International Airport. Rosenbloom was shot days earlier.

Neither man would say who shot Rosenbloom, KOAT said.

``Officer Rosenbloom was not murdered. He was killed in self-defense in a confrontation between two armed adversaries who were determined to pursue their goals _ his, the defense of the status quo; ours, the defense of a people who have suffered unmentionable abuse,″ said Finney, 47.

At the time, the two men were members of a group called the Republic of New Africa, a Black Panther splinter group. They were driving across country when Rosenbloom stopped them.

State Public Safety Secretary Darren White called Rosenbloom’s killing the ``greatest cowardly act that I’ve ever encountered in law enforcement.″

After the shooting, the men went into hiding for several days and then called for a tow truck. They hijacked the truck and drove onto the tarmac at the airport where they commandeered Flight 106, which had 49 people aboard, to Tampa, Fla. They released the passengers there, and then took off for Havana after refueling.

Hill, Finney and co-defendant Ralph Goodwin were jailed briefly in Havana. Goodwin drowned in a 1973 swimming accident, but Hill and Finney have basically lived as free men since 1971.

The men remain charged with murder, kidnapping and air piracy.