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Gateway Three Hostage Victim Active In Community, Friends Say

(Photo Courtesy: KDKA Viewer Amanda Taylor)

(Photo Courtesy: KDKA Viewer Amanda Taylor)

LIGONIER (KDKA) — Charlie Breitsman lives in Ligonier and is very well-known in Westmoreland County.

KDKA-TV talked to two Ligonier businessmen who have been friends with Breitsman and his family for decades.

“My initial reaction was certainly shock, wondering how in the world anything like that could have happened, he doesn’t have that type of a business that people would come in and go out of,” Bill Stablein said.

He owns Mack M. Darr plumbing in Ligonier and has been friends with Charlie Breitsman for 40 years.

“Very active in the community, liked to play golf, well-known, like I said, grew up here, been here most of his life,” Stablein said.

Another long-time friend, Dick Hall, who owns John Hall, Inc., was glued to his TV too.

“Wondering what was going to happen,” he said. “You never know when these kind of things, how they’re going to end.”

The two watched for five hours until finally just before 2 p.m., 22-year-old Klein Michael Thaxton surrendered.

Breitsman embraced his family outside Gateway Center just moments after leaving the building.

For his friends, it was a happy ending to a tense day.

“Only that it had better have a good ending,” Stablein said. “I had no idea where it was going, but only very, very hopeful that everything worked out well. I’m glad it did.”

Charlie Breitsman’s friends say his wife and two children work at the family business in Gateway Center too.

His daughter was there at the time. His wife was off and had planned to meet her husband for lunch.

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