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Duchess of York Unharmed After Attempted Attack in New York

January 22, 1988 GMT

NEW YORK (AP) _ A young man screaming ″Murderers 3/8″ and wielding a flag on a pole rushed at the Duchess of York outside her midtown Manhattan hotel, police said.

The wife of Britain’s Prince Andrew was unhurt in the attempted assault in front of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel at about 11 p.m. Thursday, the State Department said.

A British Embassy spokesman told CBS News the duchess was ″perfectly relaxed about it.″

The suspect, identified as Michael Shanley, 22, of Manhattan, was being held at the federal Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan this morning, according to an assignment officer who did not give his name.


A State Department spokeswoman said he was charged with attempted assault on the duchess and assault on a federal agent.

The man yelled ″Murderers, murderers 3/8″ during the incident, WCBS Radio reported. Police said the flag the man carried was an Irish Republican Army flag, but the IRA normally carries the green-white-gold tricolor of the Irish Republic. At earlier demonstrations Thursday, IRA supporters carried the Irish flag.

The duchess, the former Sarah Ferguson, arrived in New York City on Wednesday to attended a gala Broadway benefit performance Thursday night of ″The Phantom of the Opera.″ She was due to depart for London today.

Francis Corniche, the British Embassy spokesman who was in New York with the duchess, said New York police ″do a very fine job. . .. They anticipate all sorts of things that, thank goodness, do not happen.″

State Department press officer Nancy Beck released a statement later in the morning saying:

″At 11:17 p.m., an assailant wielding a furled green flag attached to a six-foot solid wood pole about 2 inches in diameter charged at the visiting Duchess of York at she arrived at Waldorf-Astoria.

″Two security agents of the State Department’s diplomatic security service grabbed the man before he reached the duchess. She was immediately rushed inside the hotel by other members of the department’s protective detail. She was unharmed in the incident.

″According to Jacob Wohlman, special agent in charge of her protective detail, the suspect ... was pushed back through the line of accompanying press by agents ... (where) he was subdued and wrestled to the ground. ... He has been charged with attempted assualt on the duchess and assault on a federal agent.″


A spokesman for Buckingham Palace in London, speaking anonymously in keeping with British custom, said: ″Beyond the fact we know that she was aware of the demonstration when she got back to her hotel, we have no other comment.″

Earlier Thursday night, about 50 IRA supporters picketed outside the theater as Sarah pulled up in a Phantom V Rolls Royce. The pickets carried Irish flags and chanted ″IRA all the way.″ There were no arrests, police said.

The performance was to benefit the Eugene O’Neill Memorial Theater Center in Waterford, Conn., the Royal College of Music in London and the Sick Children’s Trust for patients and their families at the Great Ormond Street and St. Bartholomew’s hospitals in London.

Among those in attendance was Andrew Lloyd Webber, who composed the musical extravaganza of love, death and madness at the Paris Opera. The play, imported from Great Britain, began previews Tuesday and has racked up a record $17 million in advance ticket sales here. It is scheduled to open Jan. 26 and is sold out for months.