1998 Cúa hostage crisis

The 1998 Cúa hostage crisis occurred on April 5, 1998, in Cúa, Venezuela, when 18-year-old Hector Duarte attempted to rob a bakery with a handgun. After his robbery went wrong he took a woman hostage and threatened to kill her. He then engaged police in a stand-off that lasted for seven hours. The stand-off eventually ended when a police marksman shot Duarte in the head, killing him and saving the hostage. His graphic death was caught on camera.

1998 Cúa hostage crisis
Nancy López held hostage by Hector Duarte, just seconds before the latter's death
LocationCúa, Venezuela
DateApril 5, 1998 (24 years, 5 months ago) (VET UTC-4)
Attack type
Hostage situation, shooting
Deaths1 (perpetrator)
PerpetratorHector Duarte


The incident occurred on April 5, 1998, when 18-year-old Hector Duarte Bahamonte attempted to rob a bakery with a handgun in Cúa, approximately 50km south of Caracas, the capital city of Venezuela. Police foiled Duarte's efforts to rob the bakery and shot him in the arm, which resulted in Duarte taking hostages. He went into a nearby residential block and took 44-year-old Nancy López and her family hostage. Duarte shot two of his hostages, one of whom was a 9-year-old boy, and left them both bleeding on the ninth floor. He then emerged outside the building with López. He placed his handgun to her temple and threatened to kill her unless he received a vehicle that he could use for his escape. Duarte planned on fleeing to Caracas. Police cordoned off the neighborhood and began attempts to reason with Duarte. Police chief Ivan Simonovis took charge of the rescue operation to save López.

Seven hours passed, with police making desperate attempts to plead with Duarte and attempting to convince him to surrender peacefully. During the stand-off, Duarte spoke to his mother on a police cell phone. Despite the threat on her life, López reportedly remained fairly calm throughout the ordeal. Duarte repeatedly rejected police efforts to resolve the situation peacefully. Duarte reportedly said "Kill me and I will kill the woman. Send me to the cemetery once and for all. Bring two coffins". A police psychologist negotiated with Duarte from a nearby van, with police sharpshooters hiding behind the vehicle. Eventually, a police marksman fired a single shot with a sniper rifle at Duarte's face and shot him through the left eye. Duarte was killed instantly. López then broke free with only minor injuries. She remained very shocked and stunned but alive.[1]


Duarte was taken to an ambulance but was dead on scene. López escaped with only minor injuries and the other two hostages who had been shot both survived after being taken to hospital. All the victims were reported as being safe and were recovering. Police were certain there had been no other choice but to shoot Duarte to end the hostage crisis. López was interviewed by reporters the following day about the ordeal. She said she had been "born again" by the experience and had asked God to forgive Duarte. She said "I was born again yesterday, it was not my time but I was born yesterday again. I ask God to receive him (Duarte) up there and forgive him because this after all are things we do without knowing why we do them and let him rest in peace and forgive him."[2]

In popular cultureEdit

Footage of Duarte's death was caught on camera by news crews filming the scene. This footage has been shown on television and a lot of documentaries about crime. It was featured in the shockumentary film, Banned! In America, as well as the 1998 shockumentary film, Banned from Television. Both films reported the location of the crisis incorrectly. Banned! In America reported the crisis as having occurred in Caracas, Venezuela and Banned from Television reported it as having occurred in Bogotá, Colombia.[citation needed]

In June 2017, the video of Duarte's shooting went viral in India, as it was mistakenly reported as a police sharp shooter taking out an ISIS terrorist in Spain. Posts on social media and WhatsApp claimed the video was of a terrorist killed in Spain.[3] Websites such as BoomLive and The Quint published articles confirming the story was fake and had occurred in 1998.[4]


  1. ^ "Venezuela: Woman held at gunpoint escapes with her life". Cúa, Venezuela. Associated Press. April 7, 1998.
  2. ^ "Venezuela - Police shoot hostage-taker". Cúa, Venezuela. Associated Press. April 10, 1998.
  3. ^ "1998 Venezuela Hostage Video Goes Viral As ISIS Terrorist Killed By Sniper". BoomLive. June 14, 2017.
  4. ^ "Fake News of ISIS Attacker in Spain Is a Robbery Report From 1998". The Quint. June 15, 2017.