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Banker escapes kidnapper

MINNEAPOLIS -- A prominent banker was kidnapped at gunpoint Friday morning but escaped about two hours later unharmed.

John Grundhofer, chief executive officer of First Bank System Inc., was abducted by an unidentifed man about 8:30 a.m. as he pulled his Mercedes into a downtown Minneapolis parking ramp.

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About one-half hour after the abduction, Grundhofer, with the kidnapper allegedly holding a gun to his head, called in a ransom demand on the telephone in his car.

The FBI would not say how much the kidnapper demanded.

'He was taken directly over to Wisconsin,' said FBI agent Jeff Jamar. 'There, he was left by the abductor in a position where he could escape. He was able to escape and went to a nearby farmhouse.'

Grundhofer called authorities from the farmhouse.

Authorities were vague about the details of the kidnap, but they said the kidnapper, who also was armed with a knife, threatened threatened to harm the banker if he tried to escape. He then drove away in Grundhofer's car.

Grundhofer, 51, appeared with Jamar at a noon news conference at First Bank headquarters.

'First of all, I'm OK,' he said. 'I have no idea why this took place this morning. Right now, I've got a bank to run. That's what i intend to do.

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'I'm not going to comment further on details except to say thank you for all the concern expressed to me and my family.'

Jamar said authorities were looking for Grunhofer's dark gray, four- door 1990 Mercedes.

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