WASHINGTON – Defense officials say that one of the pirates holding an American captive fired an automatic weapon when the hostage tried to swim to safety.
Defense officials say it's not clear whether the pirate fired at the fleeing hostage, or into the air. The officials spoke Friday on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk about the sensitive, unfolding operation.
American cargo ship captain Richard Phillips of Underhill, Vt., jumped overboard overnight. He was apparently hoping to reach a U.S. warship standing guard several hundred yards away. The destroyer USS Bainbridge has rescue helicopters aboard, as well as lifeboats. The Bainbridge is keeping its distance, in part to stay out of the pirates' range of fire.