Joseph B. Coleman, 37, parish priest, saved Catherine L., 7, and Janet Waters, 11, from being shot, Providence, Rhode Island, March 27, 1966. A man armed with an automatic pistol broke into a second- story apartment, held Catherine, Janet, and their mother hostage, and talked of committing suicide if it became necessary to kill them. The mother managed to escape and notify police, but the man fired at them when they started up the inside stairway. He then broke a window and fired at least 15 times at other policemen who had surrounded the house. When Coleman arrived the police were urging the man to release the girls, but he refused to do so. Coleman approached the dwelling and was recognized as a priest by the gunman. Talking with the man, who shouted irrationally, Coleman proceeded to the first-floor porch and climbed up onto a tier of concrete blocks with his head below the window where the gunman stood. He pleaded in vain for the man to lower the girls to him. Someone shouted a remark which angered the man. He fired at least two shots toward policemen in the area, the bullets passing over Coleman’s head. Coleman jumped down from the blocks and ran to the other end of the porch. A policeman fired four tear gas grenades, two of which fell to the ground near the porch. The other two entered the room where the gunman and the girls were located. All thrust their heads outside. Janet called to Coleman for help. He returned to the blocks beneath the window and again urged the man to lower the girls. The gunman said he would surrender the children to Coleman only if he entered the house to get them. Almost blinded by the tear gas, Coleman entered the building alone and ascended the stairs to the apartment door. The gunman moved a furniture barricade and opened the door. When Coleman asked for the pistol, the man handed it to him. It still contained ammunition. Coleman carried Janet down the stairs as the man followed, carrying Catherine. The gunman was taken into custody by the police and later was sentenced to prison.
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