Developing: Hostage Crisis Over, Three Dead Including Gunman

Posted: Dec 15, 2014 10:40 AM

An important update to our item from last night:

Heavily armed police in Sydney stormed a cafe early Tuesday where an armed self-proclaimed sheikh had held hostages for more than 16 hours.

Live television footage at the scene showed intense flashes of gunfire and the sound of loud ammunition rounds fired. Police were racing into the building with weapons drawn.

Just before police appeared to enter the building at least six hostages were seen running from the cafe.

Details remain hazy but the gunman has reportedly been neutralized:

It is not clear if he is dead or not. Stay tuned for updates.

UPDATE: We now have video of the rescue operation:

UPDATE: Two people have been killed:

UPDATE: Prayers.

UPDATE: It's over:

UPDATE: The gunman is no longer a threat. But the situation is still dangerous:

UPDATE: More on the gunman (via The BBC):

The gunman holding people hostage in a Sydney cafe has been identified as an Iranian refugee who was on bail facing a number of charges.

Man Haron Monis, who received political asylum in Australia in 1996, was described by his former lawyer as an isolated figure.

UPDATE: Buzzfeed reports Monis was in many ways a terrible human being.

UPDATE: Hard to reconcile this online letter with his alleged actions:

UPDATE: It's possible the gunman is deceased. Unclear at this time.

UPDATE: Wonderful news:

UPDATE: He's dead:

UPDATE: A tragic development:

UPDATE: Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione just convened a press conferee to confirm that an officer was in fact "shot in the face."