American Gunman Killed in Israeli Hotel Shoot-Out

Israeli officials report that a young American has opened fire at a hotel in the resort city of Eilat and killed one person before being shot dead.

An American tourist opened fire at a hotel in the Red Sea resort city of Eilat Friday and killed a chef, before forces from an anti-terror unit interfered and shot the gunman dead, police said. Photo: Brandon Anderson/Flickr

Initially, the police couldn’t determine the motive for the shooting, but it was discovered that the suspect has not been publicly identified, says The Huffington Post.

As Israeli mass media reports, William Hershkovitz, 23, who had been an employee of the hotel while being on study program, had an argument with a colleague.

The victim, who was identified as 33-year-old Armando Abed of West Galilee, worked as a chef at the hotel.

The shot-out took place at the Leonardo Club hotel, on the Red Sea coast, one of Israel’s most popular tourist spots, reports BBC.

According to a police report, the suspect took a gun from a hotel security guard and began shooting in the hotel lobby, killing one person.

After that he barricaded himself inside the hotel kitchen, where he was surrounded by Israeli anti-terror police.

“He opened fire during the negotiations with police. They fired back and killed him,” police spokeswoman Luba Samri told reporters.

Another tourist to stop at the hotel, Aviram Sela, revealed that he had tried to wrestle the attacker to the ground before he started shooting, while terrified tourists dived for cover behind a sofa in the hotel lobby.

“We saw him beat the guard and grab his weapon and the magazine,” Sela told Israeli television, adding that the gunman then took aim at a member of Sela’s family.

Michal Bouaron, a guest at the hotel, revealed to reporters that police ordered hotel’s guests to stay in their rooms during the incident. Later, police announced that it was safe for guests to leave their rooms.

“Everyone left here happy, clapping,” Bouaron said. “There was a lot of tension.” She added, “Life goes on … We won’t let this ruin our day and our vacation.”

The New York born had arrived in Israel this summer as part of a five-month Israeli government-sponsored program aimed to help foreigners become acquainted with the country. He was combining Hebrew study, travel and work.

“He was a normal guy… There was nothing that indicated what would happen in the end,” the head of a work-study scheme for Americans visiting Israel, Ofer Gutman, said.

Before boarding a flight to place of the incident, Gutman urged 80 other participants of the program, who were also working in hotels throughout Eilat, to calm down. “It’s terrible what happened,” he said.

Yahoo! News reports that Hershkovitz on Thursday was told to leave the program after hotel staff had lodged complaints against him.

Meanwhile, The Daily Mail suggests that the hotel and the program decided to reassign the 23-year-old to another workplace.

However, Gutman didn’t explain why it was decided to end his work at the hotel, but said participants sometimes transfer to other workplaces based on their personal preferences.

He “had met all admission requirements and his medical record was clean,” Israel Way said in a statement.

The internationally funded Jewish Agency, another of the program’s sponsors, said it had appointed a panel to examine how Hershkovitz had been accepted.

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