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October 2015    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 30, No. 10   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Just Think, He Might Have Been in Your Dive Class

from the October, 2015 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Back in 2007, David Kilkeary of Crofton, MD, concocted a wild scheme to extort $3 million from the Showboat Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City, NJ, in what might have been the craziest-ever scuba caper. He would take hostages on a casino shuttle bus by threatening them with a fake handgun and a hoax bomb, and plant a fake bomb in the hotel, figuring he could trade the hostages and defuse the bombs in exchange for $3 million cash. Then, after receiving his ransom, Kilkeary would throw a Molotov cocktail from the bus to divert the police, drive the bus into an inlet, don his dive gear, escape on a Diver Propulsion Vehicle (DPV) across the inlet, where he would have dry clothing and a $20 bill waiting, then simply hail a cab to his waiting truck . . . and enjoy life!

So, Kilkeary, then age 39, rented scuba gear and bought a DPV. To avoid suspicion, he signed up for a dive certification course but never planned to attend. After all, why bother? All he needed to do was to push the button on the DPV to zoom through the water.

On November 13, 2007, he placed the hoax bomb in a Showboat bathroom next to the poker room at 9:45 pm, then went to the shuttle bus area. When he tried to get on board with bags full of scuba gear, a scooter and a Molotov cocktail, the bus driver told him he had too much stuff. Kilkeary pointed a gun at him, but the bus driver refused to drive, and the two got into a struggle, falling out of the bus. The driver broke his ankles and Kilkeary threatened the four passengers aboard, saying he would blow everyone up. He tried to drive the bus, but he didn't know how to use the air brake. He released one woman with instructions to tell Showboat about his hostages and bomb in the bathroom. Hotel security found the bomb and evacuated 2,000 people from the hotel.

Kilkeary tried to take his three hostages to a second bus. One hostage offered to carry his scuba gear if the other two people were released. Kilkeary agreed. But after transferring the bags, the final hostage got away. Kilkeary, now alone, tried to drive away, but there were no keys. Because he didn't have a cell phone, the police delivered one to him via a robot, then negotiated with him for nearly six hours, while Kilkeary pretended to be a former General from the Republic of Georgia, speaking in a fake Russian accent. After an aborted SWAT raid, Kilkeary finally surrendered at 4 a.m.

After originally pleading guilty and being sentenced to 300 months in prison, he changed his mind recently and appealed, claiming he was represented by a bad lawyer and the prosecution mishandled his case. In June, a U.S. district court denied his appeal, so it will be several more years before he gets to take his first Discover Diving course.

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