ABC News Bruno Nota reports
JERUSALEM – An American tourist was shot dead this morning by an Israeli counterterrorism unit in the resort town of Eilat after the suspect killed a hotel employee and barricaded himself in the kitchen.
The bloody 90 minute drama began when the American walked into the Leonardo Club Hotel in the southern resort town, grabbed a gun from one of the hotel’s security guards and killed a hotel employee.
The gunman was identified as William Hershkovitz, 23, from Poughkeepsie, N.Y., the Associated Press reported.
The exact sequence of events following the shooting was not immediately clear as the Israeli police continued its investigation of the incident. Police Superintendent Mickey Rosenfeld told ABC News the American then barricaded himself in the area of the kitchen of the hotel, but contrary to some reports he did not hold any hostages.
The counterterrorism unit called to the scene tried to negotiate and disarm the shooter, but ere met with more shots fired by the American. Those sidearm shots triggered a swift and deadly response by the intervention team’s members who shot and killed the assailant.
An organization called the Israel Way, which is owned by Egged Tours, issued a statement saying Hershkovitz arrived in Israel Aug. 27 to take part in a five month program working at a hotel in Eilat and taking part in field trips around Israel.
Hotel staff complained about his behavior and at a meeting Thursday it was decided that Hershkovitz would leave the program and return to the U.S.
Rosenfeld said he worked at the Leonardo.
The resort of Eilat is situated at the southern tip of Israel. The city’s industry is vastly based on tourism and its hotel were crowded with Israelis celebrating Sukkot, The Feast of the Tabernacles. It is a week when schools are closed and many businesses are working only part time.
Eilat’s hotels, one of the popular tourist destinations in Israel, are at close to 100 percent occupancy during the week of Sukkot.