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Pittsburgh Police Detail Hostage Suspect’s Actions

Hostage Suspect Considered Stealing Police Officer's Gun
(Photo Credit: KDKA)

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

Ralph Iannotti Ralph Iannotti
Ralph Iannotti began working as a KDKA-TV general assignment reporter...
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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — New details are coming out about the hostage situation that unfolded in Gateway Three in Downtown Pittsburgh Friday.

Pittsburgh Police Chief Nate Harper says the suspect, 22-year-old Klein Thaxton, began his journey at 3 a.m. He is a resident of a three-quarter house in the Beechview area.

“At which time he woke up … he woke up in an evil mood,” Harper said. “He took a hammer, a kitchen knife, his cell phone, charger and took a bike and he rode from the Beechview area down through the West End through the North Side here. By the time he arrived Downtown, it was around 7 a.m.”

Harper says Thaxton noticed a police officer working the traffic detail and felt like he needed a gun.

“At which time he contemplated taking the hammer, hitting the officer in the head and stealing the officer’s gun,” he continued. “He continued to ride on his bike when he came upon the second officer. He looked at the second officer and he felt that wasn’t a good idea because he didn’t want to get shot by the police officer trying to steal his gun.”

Pittsburgh police say Thaxton continued to ride around Downtown and ended up taking a break outside of Gateway Center to eat a candy bar.

“As he was sitting there, he looked and noticed how a lot of women were going into work into the Gateway building,” Harper said. “He noticed how security was not there to check their ID and he noticed how the women walked free through the lobby area, go onto the elevator, proceeded to their floor.”

Police say that’s when Thaxton decided to go into the building and rode to the 22nd and 23rd floors.

“Those floors are secured where you need … some type of … swipe key to get into those floors which he did not have,” Harper explained. “He then wandered down to the 16th floor. He looked into that business and noticed that there were a lot of women working, but he did not want to victimize a woman – he wanted to victimize a male.”

That’s when he saw Charlie Breitsman sitting in his office, walked in and asked him if he had an iPhone.

“As he started to answer the question, he also noticed that Charlie had a computer and also noticed Charlie had a TV,” Harper said. “He felt that this is the office where he needed to be because of the TV, computer and iPhone at which time he pulled the knife out, brandished the knife, terrorized Charlie. At the same time, opened the door, hollered, ‘If you aren’t Charlie, you better leave this floor!’”

At that point, the employees evacuated the 16th floor. He told female employees to leave because, Harper said, Thaxton had car jacked a woman in McKeesport, and he felt he didn’t want to victimize another female.

Police say Thaxton at times held the knife to Breitsman’s throat and threatened to kill him more than 50 times.

According to the criminal complaint, at one point during the standoff, Thaxton and his hostage, 48-year old Charles Breitsman, struggled over Thaxton’s knife, and he [Thaxton] said he wanted to die at the hands of police, and was committed to being shot.

Thaxton surrendered Friday afternoon after police negotiators allowed him to talk briefly to his mother, and his ex-girlfriend, who broke up with him in 2008.

Pittsburgh Police Chief Nate Harper credits negotiators helping to end the standoff with no shots being fired, and no one being hurt.

Police said Thaxton expressed no remorse when he was taken into custody.

Stay with KDKA for the latest developments.

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