Hostage Standoff at Gateway Center in Pittsburgh Ends Peacefully
The nearly six-hour hostage standoff at Three Gateway Center in Pittsburgh has ended peacefully. The hostage is safe and suspect in police custody.
PITTSBURGH–Police say the nearly six-hour hostage situation at Three Gateway Center in downtown Pittsburgh has ended peacefully.
Police Chief Nate Harper said the hostage is safe and the suspect, Klein Michael Thaxton, surrendered shortly before 2 p.m. Friday without incident.
The 22-year-old man walked into the office building at 8:16 a.m. Friday and went into one of the inner suites on the 16th floor with what he claimed was a bomb and a gun, Harper said. Police said Thaxton allegedly took a hostage at CW Breitsman Associates, which is a pension and investments firm located on the floor.
WPXI-TV identified the hostage as Charles Breitsman.
Harper said Thaxton held the man hostage inside the inner office that holds the investment firm. There were no shots fired and no one was injured, he said. Police later said Thaxton merely had a knife.
Harper said Thaxton is a former member of the military. He described his demeanor as "relatively calm" while talking to negotiators.
He did not know why the Thaxton allegedly targeted CW Breitsman Associates.
"No one knows except for him," Harper said.
Thaxton was communicating with friends and the public using his Facebook account during much of the day. Harper admitted it was a “distraction” and by 1 p.m., Thaxton's Facebook page had been removed from the Internet.
“We really want his whole attention with the negotiators,” Harper said before Thaxton surrendered. “He’s still cooperative. There’s no harm to the hostage person.”
Earlier in the morning, WPXI’s Kelly Brennan interviewed 16th floor employees who called 911 this morning.
The three employees said the receptionist ran into their office about 8:10 a.m. and yelled to them to call 911 and lock the door. They told WPXI they thought the receptionist’s father was being held hostage.
Building security and police responded soon after. Television live shots showed workers walking away from the Gateway Center complex.
Police reopened the Liberty Avenue off-ramp from I-376 and other nearby roads just in time for the evening rush hour. Gateway Center subway station also reopened.
Did you witness the situation at Gateway Center? Tell us about your experience in the comments section.