Former Iranian hostage dies following fatal shooting

Nov. 2, 1991
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ADELANTO, Calif. -- A former Marine who was one of 52 Americans held hostage in the U.S. Embassy in Iran was pronounced dead Saturday from a gunshot wound to the head suffered during a robbery, police said.

John D. McKeel Jr., 38, was shot twice in the head early Friday while struggling with an armed robber at his apartment, Adelanto police said.

The Texas native was on life support in Victor Valley Hospital in Victorville, Calif., where he was pronounced dead about 1 a.m. Saturday, Adelanto police Officer Patsy Jennings said.

'They had left him on life support for donation of organs,' Jennings said.

McKeel, a native of the Dallas suburb of Balch Springs, was a Marine sergeant assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. In 1979, Iranian radicals seized the embassy and McKeel was held hostage along with 51 other Americans for 444 days.

When McKeel returned to Texas, he became a local celebrity. In 1981, he was treated for an alcohol problem and later spent more than a year in a naval hospital for what he called a nervous breakdown.

In 1984, he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress syndrome but was allowed to re-enlist. His military career ended in 1988, after he was pronounced unfit to serve and forced to take an honorable discharge.

He was bitter after the discharge, telling the Dallas Times Herald in 1988, 'If you put your life on the line for your country, they ought to repay you some other way than saying, 'Hit the road,''

In California, McKeel began managing a 96-unit apartment complex about 90 miles northeast of Los Angeles with his wife. They were robbed at gunpoint Friday by a man who minutes earlier had robbed another resident of the complex, police said.

After turing over about $30, McKeel and his wife struggled with the robber, who fired four shots. McKeel was struck by two of the shots.

Police arrested Anthony Lorne Maddox, 21, on suspicion of murder and armed robbery, Jennings said. He was being held without bail at Victorville jail.

McKeel is survived by his wife of six years, Trudy, and a son from a previous marriage. The family moved to Adelanto about 18 months ago, family members said.

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