Sept. 22--The man accused of holding a hostage in downtown Pittsburgh Friday told police that he woke up in "an evil mood" and selected Gateway 3 because he noticed women entering the building freely and believed he could do the same.
Klein Michael Thaxton's stop there was the last on an early morning journey that began at what police described as a transitional living residence in Beechview, Pittsburgh police Chief Nate Harper said at an afternoon news conference.
The 22-year-old packed a plastic bag with a kitchen knife, a cell phone charger and a hammer and hopped on his bike about 3 a.m.
He tried to head Downtown through the Fort Pitt Tunnels but was stopped by workers who told him he couldn't ride through. Instead he went across the West End Bridge and into Downtown, where he spotted a police officer directing traffic and contemplated hitting him with the hammer and taking the officer's gun.
"He said, 'I feel powerful when I have a gun,'" Chief Harper said. When he saw a second officer he thought better of it, believing he would be killed.
He ventured farther Downtown to Gateway 3, where he sat on a ledge eating a candy bar and watching women freely walk into the building, the chief said. He did the same.
Mr. Thaxton went to the 22nd and 23rd floors but couldn't get into the offices because he lacked a pass key. So he went to the 16th floor, where he found Charles W. Breitsman, whose office had a computer, a cell phone and a television set, and decided that was where he would make his stand, the chief said.
He knew Mr. Breitsman's name only from seeing it on the door of the office. Chief Harper said the hostage-taker had no connection to the hostage.
Mr. Thaxton pulled out his knife, went inside the office and shut the door, telling everyone else to leave. He wanted to target a man, he said, because he had already targeted a woman during a previous carjacking in McKeesport.
He threatened Mr. Breitsman with the knife, held it to his throat and threatened to kill him, the chief said.
Officers initially believed he had a gun because he told Mr. Breitsman he would shoot him. They believed he had a bomb because the cell phone cord was seen hanging out of the plastic bag he carried into the building. Police now say he had neither weapon.
Mr. Breitsman was held hostage for nearly six hours, while Mr. Thaxton intermittently posted Facebook comments to friends who responded more than 700 times.
"When he saw there were 700 comments, he felt that people were concerned and he was important," the chief said. Facebook distracted him from harming Mr. Breitsman, but it also distracted Mr. Thaxton from negotiations. the chief said.
Police negotiators ultimately coaxed Mr. Thaxton out, but they agreed to let him speak to an ex-girlfriend he had not seen since 2008. Officers drove her from her house to the building and she communicated via phone.
He will be charged with crimes including unlawful restraint, terroristic threats and aggravated assault. Mr. Breitsman was shaken but otherwise unharmed, Chief Harper said.
Mr. Thaxton surrendered about 1:50 p.m.
Asked what broke the standoff, Chief Harper said, "The negotiators. They were very successful in keeping the lines of communication open."
Shortly after the surrender, police spokeswoman Diane Richard said Mr. Breitsman "is doing OK at this point, a little shaken up." He is being brought over to [police] HQ" for debriefing.
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