Durham Hostage Crisis Ends Peacefully
Posted February 25, 1997
DURHAM — A dangerous hostage situation in Durham ended peacefully early Tuesday morning after a man who had been holed up in an apartment surrendered to police.
The incident began Monday afternoon when 24-year-old Derrick Harper of Durham went to the Research Triangle Park offices of IBM where his girlfriend worked and kidnapped her, said Police Capt. W.R. Thomas.
Harper released his girlfriend about 6 p.m. and she reported the kidnapping to the police. While officers were looking for Harper, he went to the home of his girlfriend's sister, kidnapped several people at gunpoint and forced them to drive him to the home of a third sister, Thomas said.
About 7 p.m., Harper locked himself inside the apartment holding five members of his girlfriend's family at gunpoint. Police said Harper demanded to see his girlfriend or he would kill one family member every hour.
The hostages included twin 14-year-old girls and a 6-year-old boy. The boy, who spent the afternoon as a hostage, was the first to be released about 10 p.m. Another hostage escaped about 11:30 p.m.
Heavily armed SWAT teams surrounded the building and evacuated the area as police negotiators convinced Harper to release his hostages one by one throughout the night. Harper's girlfriend eventually came to the scene and talked to Harper.
After releasing all his hostages, Harper gave himself up to police without firing a shot. Police said Harper would be evaluated by doctors at Duke University.