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Female Mail Worker Freed in Miami

January 31, 2003 GMT

MIAMI (AP) _ The female postal worker who had been held hostage Friday in a hijacked mail truck at a Miami intersection has been freed, but a man believed to be armed with a rifle and handgun was still in the back of the truck. Negotiators were trying to talk him into surrendering, police said.

Dozens of heavily armed police officers surrounded the hijacked mail truck after a 90-minute slow-speed chase through the city’s streets. Miami-Dade County police Detective Randy Rossman said the chase began after officers received a call around 11:15 a.m. from a woman who said two men were following her car in another vehicle.

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When officers arrived, the gunman broke into the postal truck and fled, missing as he fired shots at pursuing officers, Rossman said. A second man was arrested and was being questioned, Rossman said.

As the mail truck wound through the city’s streets with the hijacker inside, more than a dozen police cruisers and helicopter followed. Police eventually stopped the truck by placing spikes in the road to blow out its tires.

During the chase, the truck traveled at about the speed limit and stopped periodically near bystanders along the road while someone inside spoke to them before driving off again.

The Rev. Marc Cooper said he gave his cell phone to a man inside the truck at one point, hoping that police could communicate with him.

``He didn’t seem agitated ... he seemed calm,″ Cooper told WSVN-TV.

The mail carrier had been delivering mail on her route when she was carjacked, postal inspector Manny Gonzalez told WFOR-TV. He had no further details but said carriers are trained to deal with hostage situations.

Forty-eight Miami-Dade County schools were locked down during the chase as a precaution.