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Hostage-Taker: A Drifter With A Grudge Against The Government

March 7, 1994

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) _ The man who carried a bomb into a library and took 10 hostages was a drifter with a grudge against the government who lived in a tiny hotel room stuffed with combat gear, gun magazines and ammunition.

He was thwarted by a 22-year lawman dressed in civilian clothes who made himself a hostage by slipping into the room where Clifford Lynn Draper, armed with a gun and a homemade bomb, had herded his captives on Saturday morning.

More than five hours later, Draper told the hostages they had to draw lots, apparently to determine the order in which they would be executed. That’s when Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Lt. Lloyd Prescott identified himself.

Draper pointed his gun at the deputy, who pulled out his concealed weapon and shot him. The hostages were unharmed; Draper died at a hospital.

Prescott ″is the kind of guy who would do something like he did today - put himself in harm’s way to make somebody else safe,″ said Deputy Jim Potter. ″He did a heck of a job for those people in there.″

By Sunday, police still knew little about Draper, who had lived in a downtown residential hotel since late December. He was from Jackson County, Ark., and had a criminal record involving minor weapons and burglary charges in California, said Salt Lake Police Lt. Marty Vuyk.

Authorities in Jackson County said they had been contacted by people who identified themselves as Draper’s parents, Vuyk said. Draper also had apparently been in the military, but Vuyk did not know which branch. He had been in Texas and Arizona before coming to Utah, Lt. Scott Folsom said.

Neighbors at the hotel described Draper, 29, as a peculiar loner.

″He had a lot of survival gear,″ said Cary Tanner. During a minor earthquake in February, she said, Draper ″freaked out and came out with big survival gear and everything.

″And one time, when he was looking for a job, he went out wearing a suit with his headband and canteen on.″

Draper had watched for several days as a group of visiting Tibetan Buddhist monks created an intricate sacred sand painting, or mandala, at the main downtown branch of the Salt Lake City library.

On Saturday, he leaped onto a table and started taking hostages from among library patrons. He let the monks go. They chanted prayers for peace outside.

Police initially said Draper held 18 hostages, but Folsom said there were 10.

Draper told a radio station he wanted to speak on the air and read a list of demands and explanations, but police told station employees to refuse. The station placated Draper by playing songs he requested by Jethro Tull, Led Zeppelin and Aerosmith.

″I want all your classics. This is not good mood music,″ Draper told the station in one recorded call. ″I may wind up in the morgue, bits and pieces of me at the crematorium, but I’m not going to jail.″

Draper did not want to talk to police officers, telling the station ″This is a military matter″ and demanding to talk to the police chief, Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt and the commander of the National Guard. He never did.

He told the station he had been wronged by the government and claimed he was bilked out of money in the military. He said he wanted a pardon from President Clinton, but didn’t say what he wanted to be pardoned for.

Draper also gave a letter to one of the monks. Police would not divulge its contents.

Draper was armed with a .45-caliber handgun and wore fatigues with razor blades sewn to the pants, apparently to keep anyone from tackling him.

His bomb was made of a can of black gunpowder, usually sold in cans of a little less than a quart, with more than 100 lead pellets glued to it, police said. It was wired to two 9-volt batteries with a hair curling iron as a ″dead man’s switch″ trigger.

When Draper took the hostages he was holding the curling iron open and said the bomb would explode if he closed it. Police said the switch didn’t work.

The shrapnel could have killed or injured someone near the bomb, said Ray Dalling, a police bomb technician. Police disarmed the bomb and burned off the gunpowder.

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