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1996 Honolulu hostage crisis

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Target  Former co-workers
Non-fatal injuries  2
Date  6 February 1996
Weapons  Sawed-off shotgun
Perpetrator  John Miranda
Attack types  Hostage, Shooting
1996 Honolulu hostage crisis httpsuploadwikimediaorgwikipediaenthumb9
Deaths  2 (including perpetrator)
Location  Sand Island, Honolulu, Hawaii, United States

The 1996 Honolulu hostage crisis occurred on February 6, 1996, in Sand Island, Honolulu, Hawaii, when John Miranda took hostages at the Seal Masters of Hawaii building, his former place of employment. During the hostage crisis, two hostages were injured, one seriously. The hostage-taker was the only fatality during the crisis itself. Weeks later, however, he was found to have murdered his former girlfriend.


Start of the crisis

The incident began just before 7:00 a.m. local time on Tuesday, February 6, 1996, when twenty-eight-year-old John Nahale Miranda burst into the Seal Masters of Hawaii building. The company was a waterproofing business that was based in Sand Island, Honolulu. Miranda had previously worked at the building as an employee but had been fired eight months prior to the event. Miranda was enraged over having no money or job and had accused company officials of racism and firing him solely because he was Hawaiian/Puerto Rican. Miranda had armed himself with a sawed-off shotgun and a knife. He opened fire immediately as he burst in and shot his former supervisor and vice president of the company, fifty-nine-year-old Guy George. George was shot once in the leg and suffered a serious gunshot wound. Miranda then took five employees who were working in the building hostage, including George.

Law enforcement and media response

Miranda called a local radio station and explained what he was doing. The presenters of the station tried to talk him down and implored him to surrender peacefully, but Miranda refused as he had already been to jail previously and had no intention of returning. Law enforcement responded pretty quickly after Miranda's initial break in and cordoned off the area. S.W.A.T. teams were called in and sharp shooters got into position around the building. Local news television crews also arrived on the scene moments later and began recording the event live.


During the early stages of the negotiations, Miranda dragged George to an open window and showed police he had already shot a hostage. Miranda threatened authorities and told them he had no intention of surrendering peacefully. At some point during the crisis, Miranda turned his attention elsewhere and George climbed out of the same open window and fell ten feet to the ground below. He then crawled across the ground and dragged himself away to safety. This enraged Miranda who then grabbed hold of another hostage, Tom McNeil. Miranda taped his sawed-off shotgun with duct tape to the back of McNeil's head and taped his own hand to the trigger of the gun. Miranda then exited the building with his four remaining hostages and ordered them to walk down the steps to the street below. He let three of them go and returned to the top of the steps with McNeil, who was now his only hostage. Miranda remained outside with McNeil for hours and the standoff continued at the top of the steps. Police pleaded Miranda to surrender peacefully, but still he refused to cooperate. After hours passed, Miranda finally ordered McNeil to head down to the street.

Suspect shot

At around 2:30 p.m., Miranda stood with McNeil in the street surrounded by police officers from all sides. He then ordered McNeil to count down from sixty-seconds to zero. Once McNeil reached zero Miranda declared he would execute him. McNeil refused to comply, so Miranda began counting down for him instead. McNeil believed that once Miranda got to ten seconds it would be the end for him. As soon as Miranda reached thirteen, McNeil spun around and tried to break free. Miranda fired a shot but missed and police were then forced into action. Miranda was shot in the chest by police and McNeil broke free. Miranda was taken to the hospital but died of his gunshot wounds. George had also been taken to the hospital earlier, recovering from the wound to the leg.


Three of the hostages escaped unharmed and McNeil himself only suffered a few minor injuries and scrapes during his struggle with Miranda. George suffered the most serious injuries with a gunshot wound to the leg, but he also survived after being taken to hospital. Miranda initially survived after being shot by police but he died in hospital later in the day from a gunshot wound to the chest inflicted by responding police. Miranda was the only fatality during the entire crisis.

Sherry Lynn Holmes

Thirty-two-year-old Sherry Lynn Holmes was Miranda's current girlfriend at the time of the crisis. Holmes had reportedly been missing since January 31, 1996. Police said that Miranda had hinted that he had killed Holmes during the standoff. Acting on an informant's tip, police searched Kawai Nui Marsh for the body of Holmes. Honolulu police and a team of dogs scoured the area several times before finding a cardboard box, buried only a few yards off a Quarry Road. The box was pulled from a shallow grave on March 29, 1996. Inside the box was a badly decomposed body, which was too decomposed to be positively identified at the time. Police were nearly certain that it was the body of Holmes. As no dental records existed for Holmes, investigators enlisted the aid of the Army's identification lab in Honolulu, using DNA and photo imaging technology to be certain. They confirmed the body was that of Holmes who had been murdered by Miranda prior to the hostage crisis.

In popular culture

In a special edition of World's Wildest Police Videos, known as, World's Scariest Police Shootouts, footage of the event was shown in the finale of an episode as well as an interview with McNeil, who described his experience on the day of the crisis.


1996 Honolulu hostage crisis Wikipedia

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