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Police Believe Escaped Inmate Killed Himself After Taking Hostage

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Raul Alaniz (credit: Weld County Sheriff's Office)

Raul Alaniz (credit: Weld County Sheriff’s Office)

GREELEY, Colo. (CBS4) – An escaped inmate shot himself in a Greeley home Friday, but not before stealing a deputy’s gun and taking a hostage.

Police closed off several blocks around 15th Street and 21st Avenue in the afternoon as they searched for the inmate. Investigators say Raul Alaniz, 32, escaped after being taken to the Northern Colorado Medical Center.

Shirley Betz told CBS4 she could have been taken hostage.

“All of a sudden somebody knocks on the door and I looked out those blinds and I saw this guy jump over that flower box right there,” Betz said.

She thinks it was Alaniz who knocked on her door.

“I noticed he had something orange on,” Betz said. “I didn’t have a clue that he was an escaped convict or anything.”

“He assaulted one of our corrections officers. He was able to get the corrections officer’s gun,” Sgt. Tim Schwartz with the Weld County Sheriff’s Office said.

Police said Alaniz then raced across the street and holed up in a home with a hostage inside. SWAT teams and several agencies surrounded the home.

“Well, I thought I heard gunshots more than once. They might have been breaking those windows out or something,” Betz said.

“The SWAT team was able to rescue the hostage and they heard at least one gunshot and it’s believed at this time that he took his own life,” Schwartz said.

Alaniz has a long criminal past. Court records show he’s been arrested more than a dozen times for crimes that include assault, resisting arrest and weapons charges. The last time he was arrested was Thursday night.

“I’m just glad my door was shut because he would have probably been in my house if I wouldn’t have had that door locked,” Betz said.

Deputies are trying to piece together what exactly happened in the house and how Alaniz was able to escape in the first place.

The homeowners were not home when it happened. It was one of their renters who was taken hostage.

The hospital is now reviewing Procedures about how they handle patients in police custody.

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