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Tri-State, Nation Reacts To Death Of Libyan Leader Moammar Gadhafi

Pan Am Flight 103 Family Members Say Good Riddance To Evil Dictator
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FILE - In this Saturday, June 12, 2010 file photo, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi talks during a ceremony to mark the 40th anniversary of the evacuation of the American military bases in the country, in Tripoli, Libya. (AP Photo/ Abdel Magid Al Fergany, File)

FILE – In this Saturday, June 12, 2010 file photo, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi talks during a ceremony to mark the 40th anniversary of the evacuation of the American military bases in the country, in Tripoli, Libya. (AP Photo/ Abdel Magid Al Fergany, File)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – Moammar Gadhafi, who ruled Libya for more than four decades, was captured and killed Thursday after his hometown of Sirte fell to revolutionary forces.

Libyan Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril informed the U.S. that Gadhafi was killed after numerous reports of his capture and death spread around the world.

The reports are still hazy, but Gadhafi was apparently beaten and shot with a pistol. He reportedly bled to death and a local doctor said he died of two bullet wounds to the head and chest, CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer reported.

“We have been waiting for this moment for a long time. Moammar Gadhafi has been killed,” Jibril told a news conference in the capital Tripoli.

“This is a momentous day in the history of Libya,” President Barack Obama said. “The Libyan people now have a great responsibility to build an inclusive and tolerant and democratic Libya that stands as the ultimate rebuke to Gadhafi’s dictatorship.”

“This marks the end of a long and painful chapter for the people of Libya,” Obama said. “You have won your revolution.”

GRAPHIC PHOTOS: Capture And Death Of Moammar Gadhafi

Lawmakers in the Tri-State area reacted to news of Gadhafi’s death.

“This is a fitting end to a mass murderer,” Rep. Peter King, chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, said.

WCBS 880’s Pat Farnack With Rep. Peter King

New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez told 1010 WINS that the U.S.  needs to work with other countries to help Libya forms its new government.

“The United States needs to be engaged with the Transitional National Council which is the ruling entity as of this moment to ensure that we end up with a all-inclusive democratic and secular government as this day moves forward,” Menendez said. “Hopefully the United States will once again lead in making sure that success turns into a successful venture of having a democratic and secular government, which will be no small challenge in Libya because for over four decades all they have known is a dictatorship.”

WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb With Mayor Bloomberg

“You know, I think you have to hope that the people of Libya can pull together and create a functioning government that’s open to everyone and build for the future,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

The mayor added that they have enormous oil reserves, but they are going to have a tough time after all of this fighting in building a democratic system of government. He added that if the United States can help them, we probably should.

WCBS 880 Long Island Bureau Chief Mike Xirinachs With Rep. Steve Israel

Rep. Steve Israel of Long Island says the death of Gadhafi is a good thing.

“He was a tyrant. He was a dictator. He was a tyrant and a dictator who was threatening the United States and his departure is a good thing for our country, a good thing for our world, as was the departure of Osama bin Laden,” Israel told WCBS 880 Long Island Bureau Chief Mike Xirinachs.

Rep. Israel says that as long as Gadhafi was alive, there was the potential for greater instability in Libya.

Family members of the Pan Am flight 103 bombing victims are also speaking out.

WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell With Family Reaction

Gadhafi was alleged to be behind the 1988 bombing that killed 270 people, 259 on board and 11 on the ground, as the flight flew over Lockerbie, Scotland.

In 2003, Libya took responsibility for the bombing, agreeing to pay up to $10 million to relatives of each victim.

Bert Ammerman, whose brother Thomas Joseph Ammerman was among those killed, told WCBS 880’s Paul Murnane that today may be the most satisfying day he’s had in 24 years.

“I’ve said over and over again over the 24 years that I’ve lived a Tom Clancy novel in what has taken place, where I’ve been, what we’ve been involved in,” he said. “Never once did our government really step forward and say ‘this is what we’re going to do for you.’ It was always pressure, embarrassment, pressure, pressure.”

Susan Cohen, the mother of 20-year-old Theodora Cohen, spoke with CBSNewYork.com about Gadhafi’s capture Thursday morning.

“He was an absolute tyrant and monster and so today I feel, if the news is true, it’s glorious and I’m going to drink a bottle of champagne and celebrate his death,”she said.

“I wish that he could die a thousand deaths, that would be justice to me,” Joan Dater, whose daughter Gretchen one of 35 Syracuse University students killed in the Lockerbie bombing, told CBS 2’s Jay Dow.

Dater said says relief comes with the death of a dictator, but not closure. Seeking justice for her daughter, Dater protested outside the United Nations, while Gadhafi was inside for his infamous, rambling speech in 2009.

“He exposed himself for who he is — a madman,” Dater told CBS 2’s Dave Carlin. “The world could see how crazy he is.”

Dater said real relief for her only comes with both Gadhafi dead and convicted bomber Abdel Basset al-Megrahi back in prison.

Footage and images quickly surfaced of a man resembling the 69-year-old Gadhafi lying dead or severely wounded, bleeding from the head and stripped to the waist as fighters rolled him over on the pavement.

Gadhafi’s body was then taken to the nearby city of Misrata, which Gadhafi’s forces besieged for months in one of the bloodiest fronts of the civil war.

It was in Misrata back in April where two Brooklyn photojournalists were killed in Libya while covering the fighting between Gadhafi’s forces and rebels.

Some television footage was shown of Gadhafi’s bloodied body being carried on the top of a vehicle surrounded by a large crowd chanting, “The blood of the martyrs will not go in vain.”

Gadhafi has had a controversial history with our area, especially during his visits to the United Nations.

In Sept. 2009, Gadhafi reportedly rented out Donald Trump’s estate in Bedford to set up a tent city while in the New York City area to attend the U.N. General Assembly.

The tents were later dismantled after the town of Bedford claimed the tents violated code.

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FILE - In this Sept. 23, 2009 photo, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi shows a torn copy of the UN Charter during his address to the 64th session of the United Nations General Assembly. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

The Trump Organization had said that Trump hadn’t rented the property to the Libyan leader but said part of the estate “was leased on a short-term basis to Middle Eastern partners, who may or may not have a relationship to Mr. Gadhafi.”

The news of his death reached Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in Afghanistan Thursday. She appeared overjoyed when she got the news on her Blackberry that Gadhafi had been killed, clearing the way for a new government.

Speaking with CBS News from Afghanistan Thursday morning, Clinton said if the news were true, it would be a significant development in Libya.

Clinton visited Tripoli on Tuesday to offer support for the rebels and tell them the United States would help them establish a democracy and get rid of the numerous deadly weapons around the country, including surface to air missiles capable of taking down an airliner.

Celebratory gunfire and cries of  “Allahu Akbar” or “God is Great” rang out across the capital Tripoli. Cars honked their horns and people hugged each other. In Sirte, the ecstatic former rebels celebrated the city’s fall after weeks of bloody siege by firing endless rounds into the sky, pumping their guns, knives and even a meat cleaver in the air and singing the national anthem.

129722845 Tri State, Nation Reacts To Death Of Libyan Leader Moammar Gadhafi

Libyans wave their new national flag as they celebrate in the streets of Tripoli following news of Moammar Gadhafi's capture on October 20, 2011. (Photo credit: MAHMUD TURKIA/AFP/Getty Images)

Libya’s new leaders had said they would declare the country’s “liberation” after the fall of Sirte. The Misrata Military Council, one of the command groups, said its fighters captured Gadhafi. Another commander, Abdel-Basit Haroun, says Gadhafi was killed when the airstrike hit the fleeing convoy.

PHOTOS: Four Decades Of Moammar Gadhafi

One fighter who said that the final fight took place at an opulent compound for visiting dignitaries built by Gadhafi’s regime. Adel Busamir said the convoy tried to break out but after being hit it turned back and re-entered the compound. Several hundred fighters assaulted.

“We found him there,” Busamir said. “We saw them beating him (Gadhafi) and someone shot him with a 9mm pistol — then they took him away.”

Military spokesman Col. Ahmed Bani in Tripoli told Al-Jazeera TV, “I can assure everyone in Libya that Gadhafi has been killed for sure and I’m definitely sure and I reassure everyone that this story has ended and this book has closed.”

But rather than a strike on the convoy, he said a wounded Gadhafi “tried to resist (revolutionary forces) so they took him down.”

The caution in making a definitive announcement came because past reports of Gadhafi family deaths or captures have later proven incorrect, even after they were announced by officials.

During his reign, he delighted in angering foreign leaders. After a 1986 bombing that killed U.S. servicemen in Berlin, Ronald Regan called him a “mad dog.” Former Egyptian President Anwar Sadat said Gadhafi was “mentally sick.”

He was also notorious for wearing extravagant outfits, ranging from white suits and sunglasses to brilliantly colored robes. But behind the flamboyance and showmanship, associates say he was meticulous in managing the levers of power.

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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