PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A 22-year-old man is in police custody and another man is safe following a more than five hour hostage situation at Gateway Center in Downtown Pittsburgh.
Police say it all started just before 8:10 a.m. and ended just before 2 p.m. in a suite on the 16th floor of Gateway Three.
The suspect is identified as 22-year-old Klein Michael Thaxton. He was taken into custody just before 2 p.m.
“Negotiators were able to successfully talk the subject into surrendering,” said Pittsburgh Police Chief Nate Harper. “No harm has come to the subject nor the hostage, and it is over.”
Most recently, Thaxton lived in the McKeesport area, and may also have ties to the Altoona area. Police say he has a military background and a criminal history, but was not an employee of the business.
According to KDKA’s Andy Sheehan, the person who was held hostage is reportedly the manager of CW Breitsman Associates, LLC, which reportedly handles union pensions and insurance.
According to Chief Harper, around 8:10 a.m. the armed man walked into the investment business. He then apparently asked a question about a specific person.
Shortly after that, he took the man hostage.
By then, the news started to spread throughout the building and that’s when people started to evacuate.
Chief Harper says no shots were fired and no one was hurt during the incident.
“It’s a blessing that no one was injured, no life was taken,” said Harper.
According to Chief Harper, Thaxton was cooperative and was on Facebook for a time as the situation unfolded. He communicated with some friends on the social media site, but police asked those people to stop talking with him.
Negotiators communicated with him over the phone. His mother also made contact with him as she is very concerned about her son. She arrived at the scene this morning, was seen leaving the building around 1:15 p.m., but returned to the command post a short time later.
Police described Thaxton’s demeanor as calm this morning.
This afternoon, police said the suspect told them he had no explosives.
The 16th floor was completely evacuated.
Witnesses reported seeing the suspect with two bags and was waving something, possibly a weapon, around.
KDKA’s David Highfield talked to two of Thaxton’s neighbors in McKeesport. Both say the family are “really good people” and that the Michael Thaxton they know “wouldn’t hurt anyone.” They have no idea why he would have targeted this particular business.
Numerous police officials from the City of Pittsburgh, Allegheny County and Pennsylvania State Police were called to the area. Also, several hostage negotiators, ATF, the FBI and canine response teams have been called in.
The Gateway Center T station was closed down. Other streets in and around the area of Gateway Center also had to be shut down during the situation.
Port Authority bus routes were also routed away from the area.
Stay with KDKA for the latest details.
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