Man takes hostage and claims to have bomb in downtown Pittsburgh
Update (below): Hostage taker in custody
Police said a man has taken a hostage in a Pittsburgh high rise building and claimed he has a bomb.
Police identified the man as 22-year-old Klein Michael Thaxton, a former soldier. He allegedly entered Pittsburgh’s Gateway Center after 8 a.m. carrying two bags, then took one person hostage at CW Breitsman Associates. The company administers third-party health insurance policies for employers, along with retirement and pension plans.
Witnesses wold CBS Pittsburgh (watch live) that the suspect called out someone’s name in particular when he walked into the office. It is not clear who that person is or whether they’re being held hostage.
Police Chief Nate Harper said in an impropmtu press conference that no shots have been fired and no injuries have been reported. Harper added that Thaxton does have a criminal record. He also said that police were communicating with the suspect’s mother, and that he was not an employee of the company.
A Facebook page for Klein Michael Thaxton featured a photo of an automatic rifle, along with an image of President Barack Obama, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Police said they believed he had some sort of relationship with the individual he’s taken hostage.
“Basically, we don’t know why he asked for this individual,” Harper said. “We’re trying to track that all down.” He added that the Gateway 3 building in downtown Pittsburgh has not been evacuated, but the 16th floor has been cleared out.
Thaxton appeared to be posting to his Facebook account even as the hostage situation unfolded: “i cant take it no more im done bro,” he wrote shortly after entering the building. “how this ends is up to yall bro real shyt.” He later posted his cell phone number and said he’s “lost everything and i aint gettn it back.” Numerous commenters also tried to encourage him to speak with hostage negotiators, while others cheered him on.
SWAT teams are on the scene and police negotiators are talking with the man. Raw Story will have further updates as the story develops.
Update: Hostage taker in custody
Thaxton surrendered himself to police just before 2 p.m. His single hostage, business owner Charles Breitsman, was unharmed. Police said Thaxton did not have a bomb.
Updated with new information.