ONTARIO – Police rescued a teen-ager Saturday after a roughly 10-hour standoff that ended with the death of a federal police officer accused of kidnapping the boy a day earlier.
David Leonard Clairmont, 32, was shot just after 9 a.m. during an exchange of gunfire with a police SWAT team after he barricaded himself inside a hotel room bathroom. It was not immediately clear whether the fatal shot was self-inflicted or from officers’ fire.
Clairmont was due in court Monday to face three felony charges related to sex crimes with the same boy, a 13-year-old middle school student, Riverside County Sheriff’s spokesman Mark Lohman said.
Shortly before the standoff’s furious ending, police believed Clairmont was ready to surrender peacefully.
“He gave every indication that he wanted to come out,” Lohman said.
The boy was unhurt, suffering only the effects of tear gas that officers pumped into the room after negotiations deteriorated. Wearing blue jeans and a gray T-shirt, he was taken from the bathroom, passed through a hotel window and rushed to an ambulance before the gunfire erupted.
Clairmont, an officer with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in Los Angeles, was in uniform when he abducted the boy about 7 a.m. Friday from a school bus stop in Bermuda Dunes, an unincorporated area about 15 miles east of Palm Springs, Lohman said.
Several other children witnessed the kidnapping but were not hurt.
Clairmont forced the boy into a rented car and fled west on Interstate 10, leading California Highway Patrol officers on a chase that hit speeds of 110 mph. The CHP lost sight of him in Redlands.
Still in uniform, he checked in about four hours later to the Country Suites hotel in Ontario, a San Bernardino County city about 35 miles east of Los Angeles.
Police received a tip sometime after 10 p.m. that Clairmont was there and later evacuated a section of the hotel.
They found his service gun in the trunk of his rented Pontiac Grand-Am, but he told hostage negotiators that he had another weapon, Lohman said.
Negotiators kept in contact with Clairmont and the boy throughout the night. Clairmont told officers he wanted to give up but was “just trying to get up the nerve,” Lohman said.
He did not immediately know why Clairmont refused to surrender, but the man faced felony charges after being arrested for allegedly molesting the boy last summer.
He was booked into Riverside County Jail on July 23 and released on bond.
At the time, Clairmont and the boy lived in the same Riverside apartment complex, Lohman said. The boy’s family has since moved to Bermuda Dunes. He was to be reunited with them Saturday after being treated at a hospital.
Clairmont, who police said had a military police background, most recently was living in San Luis Obispo County and was on administrative leave from his job, authorities said.