SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – A man took his two young children from a baby sitter's home at gunpoint then apparently killed himself inside a South Dakota hair salon Tuesday after officers found an employee shot to death in a car in the salon parking lot.
The man released the children and four employees — one of whom was the children's mother — after entering the Cost Cutters salon that sits in a strip mall along Sioux Falls' busiest street about 1:30 p.m., Police Sgt. Loren McManus said. The employees reported hearing a gunshot as they were leaving the building, he said.
McManus said the gunman didn't appear to want to hold the employees or children hostage.
"I don't think they were forced to stay or go," he said. "They left on their own."
Shortly before 4 p.m., a SWAT team that entered the building discovered the man had died, apparently from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, McManus said.
The man had earlier arrived at the baby sitter's home and brandished a weapon before taking the children, both of whom are younger than 2, McManus said.
About five minutes after the baby sitter called authorities, police received a call about a car accident about two miles away in the salon parking lot. Officers arrived to discover a woman in her early 20s dead of a gunshot wound inside the vehicle. McManus later identified the woman as Cost Cutters employee Amanda Connors.
Businesses around the salon were evacuated and a nearby middle- and high-school complex was locked down for hours.
Retiree Ron Goergen, 56, said he was shopping in the plaza's thrift store when a store manager told shoppers to leave immediately.
And Gene Luke had just finished lunch at a pizza place and was walking to his car when officers swarmed in, preventing him from leaving the parking lot.
"They just said, 'Keep walking,' " said Luke, 44.
Luke said when he was walking, he saw two kids being carried out of the salon by some women.
McManus said he was unsure of Connors' relationship to the man other than being a coworker of his children's mother. The children were unharmed, taken into police custody and later released to the mother.