Gateway Center Hostage Suspect Surrenders
Published: Friday, September 21, 2012
Updated: Friday, September 21, 2012 18:09
The young-Army veteran who took one other man hostage in downtown Pittsburgh has surrendered to Pittsburgh police following negotiations.
Klein Michael Thaxton, 22, surrendered to police at 3 Gateway Center in downtown Pittsburgh at 1:52 p.m., according to Pittsburgh police.
Thaxton surrendered by walking out of the room and putting his hands up, said Police spokeswoman Diane Richard.
Neither Thaxton or hostage Charlie Breitsman, owner of CW Breitsman Associates LLC., were injured in the process and the situation has been resolved, Police Chief Nate Harper said. It is unclear if Thaxton was armed when he surrendered and police found no evidence of a bomb in the building.
The condition of his surrender was that he would be allowed to speak with an ex-girlfriend who broke up with him in 2008, Harper said.
It has not been determined why Thaxton targeted Breitsman, Harper said.
Thaxton is in police custody and has been taken to police headquarters. Breitsman has also been taken to headquarters and is “a little shaken up,” according to Richard.
Thaxton has not been allowed to see his family or friends who showed up at the scene, but negotiations were helpful in the surrendering, Richard said.
Thaxton’s mother, brother and sister were present along with a few members of Breitsman’s family. Breitsman has been allowed to meet with his family, Richard said.
Richard said that police have to ensure they handle Thaxton appropriately.
“He is a sick young man, but we have to take measures to also do right by him,” Richard said.
Harper said he was happy with the resolution.
“God bless that no one was injured,” Harper said. “The negotiators were very successful in keeping the line of communication open the entire time.”
Thaxton allegedly walked into the office building just before 8:30 a.m. Friday and took one man hostage in the office of CW Breitsman Associates LLC. on the building’s 16th floor.
Thaxton made no demands, Harper said.
Police reportedly locked down the east side of the nearby Wyndham Hotel, which faces Three Gateway Center, just before Thaxton surrendered.
Before surrendering, Thaxton had been cooperative with negotiators and had not been showing signs of aggression, Harper said.
Those in the building were allowed to leave the premises but were not allowed reentry. The lower floors of the building remained operational, Harper said.
Thaxton left a half-way house at around 3 a.m. and was “in an evil mood,” Harper said in a press conference held at police headquarters.
He grabbed a hammer, kitchen knife and a cell phone charger and left for Downtown from Beechview on a bicycle. He passed one officer by the Allegheny County Jail at around 7 a.m., causing him to consider stealing the officer’s gun. He then saw a second officer and contemplated striking the officer in the head with the hammer, but decided against it because he did not want to be shot by the officer, Harper said.
Thaxton arrived outside 3 Gateway Center at around 8 a.m. and ate a candy bar while people filed into the building. He noticed that the women entering the building walked freely through security. He took the building’s elevator up to the 22nd or 23rd floor but could not gain entry because a key code or a swipe card was necessary for access, Harper said.
He then took an elevator down to the 16th floor where he was able to enter Breitsman’s office and asked Breitsman if he had an iPhone. He also noticed that Breitsman had a television and a computer and decided that Breitsman’s office was the space his actions would have to occur. Thaxton brandished the knife and told the people on the floor to get out if they “ever wanted to see Charlie again,” Harper said.