'He is a sick young man'
Army veteran holds man hostage
Published: Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, September 26, 2012 22:09
A young Army veteran who took another man hostage in downtown Pittsburgh, and chronicled the ordeal on Facebook, surrendered to Pittsburgh police following negotiations Friday.
Klein Michael Thaxton, 22, surrendered to police at 3 Gateway Center near Point State Park at 1:52 p.m. Friday, Pittsburgh police said.
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 ordeal and the situation has been resolved, Police Chief Nate Harper said.
Harper siad Thaxton was armed with a hammer and a kitchen knife but no gun.
His bail has been set at $1 million.
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.
Harper said there was no connection between Thaxton and Breitsman.
Breitsman was taken to headquarters and was released, and was “a little shaken up,” according to Richard.
Thaxton was 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 was immediately 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 said they locked down the east side of the nearby Wyndham Hotel, which faces Three Gateway Center, just before Thaxton surrendered.
Before surrendering, Thaxton was cooperative with negotiators and did not show signs of aggression, Harper said.
Those in the building were allowed to leave 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, a kitchen knife and a cell phone charger before leaving 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 and 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.
Breitsman’s daughter left the floor and called police at 8:10 a.m. Police were immediately dispatched at 8:15 a.m., Harper said.
Thaxton updated his Facebook status several times before his account was deactivated. Police contacted the U.S. Attorney’s office, which contacted the provider to shut down the account. It was deactivated to keep Thaxton concentrated on the negotiator, Harper said.