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Bay Area Standoff Ends; Gunman Dead

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Police SWAT personnel outside a hotel on Francisco Blvd. in San Rafael, August 18, 2011. (CBS)

Police SWAT personnel outside a hotel on Francisco Blvd. in San Rafael, August 18, 2011. (CBS)

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SAN RAFAEL (CBS SF) – A 2-day long standoff with a gunman inside a San Rafael hotel with a hostage has ended with the death of the gunman Thursday afternoon, according to police.

A police spokeswoman said SWAT personnel entered the room at the Extended Stay Deluxe hotel on the 1700 block of Francisco Blvd. around 1pm.

The gunman was deceased and the hostage – the man’s girlfriend – was found safe, said the spokeswoman.

No word yet on what caused the death of the unidentified gunman.

Interstate Highway 580 in San Rafael reopened early Thursday morning as the standoff which began Wednesday afternoon continued overnight, a California Highway Patrol officer said.

The gunman prompted the closure by firing a shot at the highway, a police spokeswoman said.

San Rafael police arrived at the hotel, located at1775 Francisco Blvd. East, around 8:30 a.m. Wednesday after they learned that a suspect in a Sunday stabbing was there, police spokeswoman Margo Rohrbacher said.

After officers arrived, the suspect fired a shot toward I-580 from his window, and the California Highway Patrol shut down the freeway betweenU.S. Highway101 and Sir Francis Drake Boulevard. The Richmond-San Rafael bridge was also initially closed.

The bridge was soon reopened, but I-580 remained closed until 1 a.m. Thursday, when a metal sheet was raised by crane over the suspect’s window to block any gunfire, according to police and the CHP.

The suspect told police the woman is his girlfriend, but officers have not spoken with her.

“We believe it’s possible she is being held against her will,” Rohrbacher said..

Westbound traffic on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge was at a standstill Wednesday evening, CHP Officer Marc Johnston said.

Some motorists even ran out of gas, and crews had to assist them, he said.

The CHP also responded to a road rage incident related to the congestion that was quickly quelled, Johnston said.

Motorists stuck on the bridge posted comments on Twitter and Facebook complaining about the traffic and asking for creative ideas about how to go to the bathroom.

On Wednesday, some hotel guests were told to shelter in place or evacuate, depending on their proximity to the suspect’s room, Rohrbacher said.

The man is suspected of stabbing a clerk during a shoplifting attempt at United Markets at 515 Third St.around 4 p.m. Sunday, Rohrbacher said.

Police said the man took groceries from the supermarket and walked out without paying. The shoplifter was stopped and brought back inside the store, where he was questioned. During the questioning, he threatened an employee and held a knife to the employee’s throat, police said.

He then ran out of the store, and when several employees chased him, he stabbed one in the chest, according to police. The victim’s injuries were not serious.

He was described as a white man in his 20s, about 5 feet 10 inches tall, weighing 180 pounds with shoulder-length brown hair. He has a visible tattoo on one of his calves and was wearing gray checkered shorts and a brown knit beanie cap.

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