Two local Burwell women have walked away from a hostage situation while they were at a conference in Pittsburgh PA today, Friday, September 21, 2012. Trisha Crandall, wife of Garfield County Attorney Dale Crandall and Michelle Sawyer, wife of David Sawyer, Burwell Economic Development Director were at a conference for the GLW Children’s Council when the hostage situation began around 9am. Both women were in lock down in the hotel for nearly five hours as the hostage situation unfolded.
(Gene J. Puskar, AP)
A suicidal man who held a businessman hostage inside a downtown Pittsburgh office building for more than five hours was posting Facebook updates during the standoff, and surrendered to authorities without incident, police said.
Klein Michael Thaxton surrendered just before 2 p.m., and the man he took hostage was unhurt, said Chief Nathan Harper, Pittsburgh Police Department
The hostage-taking on the 16th floor of Three Gateway Center prompted an evacuation while Thaxton wrote on Facebook that had “lost everything” and that people didn’t have to worry about him anymore.
His friends responded by urging him to end the situation peacefully, including one who asked him to think of his mother.
A police spokeswoman identified the hostage as Charles Breitsman, owner of CW Breitsman Associates. The firm runs employee-benefits programs, but it wasn’t immediately clear why he was targeted.
“(Thaxton) is a sick young man and we do need to take measures to see he is taken care of as well,” police spokeswoman Diane Richard said.
A worker on the 16th floor described a woman running into her office yelling for someone to call 911. Kathi Dvorak, an administrative assistant at AXA Advisors, said a second woman ran in and said her office was being robbed.
Harper had described the hostage-taker as having a military background but didn’t elaborate.
Thaxton, 22, has a criminal record that includes a guilty plea to robbery earlier this year and a minimum six-month jail sentence.
Although shaken by the ordeal, both Crandall, Executive Director for the GLW Children’s Council and Associate Director, Sawyer were fine.