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High school siege ends; one hostage shot, gunman dead

Story Highlights

NEW: Gunman is dead and one female hostage is wounded, police say
NEW: Authorities say they do not yet know of a motive
• The gunman held 2 female hostages after releasing 4 others, police say
• Bomb squad, SWAT team and ATF agents were on the scene
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(CNN) -- An armed standoff at a high school in Bailey, Colorado, ended after three hours Wednesday with a hostage wounded and the gunman dead.

Sheriff Fred Wegener of the Park County Sheriff's Department said it appeared the suspect shot one of the two female hostages -- a student -- and then shot himself when SWAT team officers approached.

Wegener said the gunman's identity and motive were not yet known.

The decision to act came after the gunman broke off negotiations and "set a deadline," the sheriff said.

"We looked at the situation and [the gunman's] behavior, which was becoming more and more agitated," Wegener said.

"It was then decided that a tactical solution needed to be done in an effort to save the two hostages that were in the room," he said. "Entry was made. The suspect shot one of the hostages and then shot himself -- that's what it looks like at this time."

Asked what the deadline was for, Wegener said he was not sure. "Most of the demands, he wanted us to back off," he said.

Investigators were attempting to determine, among other things, how the gunman entered the building, he said.

The gunman had a backpack and told police there was a bomb in it, Wegener said. "It looks like there was nothing in the backpack," he said, although the man did have a handgun.

He fired one shot as he entered the classroom, Wegener said.

The remaining hostage was being interviewed, he said.

The gunman had been holding the hostages in a second-floor classroom, Jefferson County sheriff's spokeswoman Jacki Kelley said earlier Wednesday. Six hostages were initially taken, but four of them were released, she said.

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"We have almost no information on the suspect, almost nothing," Kelley told reporters. "We don't know who he is. We don't know what he wants."

A bomb squad, SWAT team and agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were dispatched to the scene, Kelley said.

Early in the situation, negotiations with the gunman were "sporadic," Kelley said. She added later that negotiators had spoken to the gunman from a hallway and via telephone, but police were trying to establish a "more reliable means of communication."

The lack of information from police and the school system concerned parents who have children at the school, according to the Denver Post.

"We've had no phone calls from the district. We don't know what's going on," said Pat Bramelette, who has two children, one attending the high school, one in middle school.

His wife, Susan, told the newspaper, "The most I got was off the bottom of the TV screen."

Sally Impson told the Denver Post that she hopes her 17-year-old son, Andrew, will find a way to contact her, although his cell phone doesn't work in the school and the road to the school is shut down.

"I'm so shook," she said. "It's just scary. You don't know what's going on. You hear shots are fired. I hope to God that everything is OK."

The 450 students at Platte Canyon High School and the 340 youngsters at the adjacent Fitzsimmons Middle School were evacuated, officials said. (Watch students board a bus to safety -- 1:11 Video)

The students were evacuated to a safe place about 12:10 p.m. (2:10 p.m. ET), the Park County School District superintendent's office said.

Bailey is about 45 miles southwest of Denver. It also lies about 40 miles southwest of Littleton, Colorado, which is where two students killed 13 people at Columbine High School in 1999.

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Sheriff Fred Wegener said officers stormed the classroom after talks broke off.

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