PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Three Pittsburgh police negotiators are credited with bringing the hostage situation at Gateway Three to an end.
They stayed on the line with 22-year-old Klein Thaxton for more than five hours and eventually convinced him to surrender.
The negotiators say they just let Thaxton talk and they listened. They say as long as that dialogue continued, no one was going to get hurt.
“Anything you might say even though you believe it’s insignificant or you might be helping might be something that enflames the situation and could ultimately cause someone to take someone’s life so we always take everything we say very seriously,” Pittsburgh Police Lt. Jason Lando said.
In this case, police say Thaxton was talking about bombs and guns and his willingness to use them to kill hostages. Within an hour or so, it became clear Thaxton wanted to see an old girlfriend.
“We realized that people’s lives are in peril,” Matt Lackner, with Pittsburgh Police, said.
Negotiators kept talking and police brought the girlfriend to the scene.
“Obviously personal relationships are oftentimes the source of perhaps why they found themselves in crisis,” Lackner said.
Police say training paid off.
“Everything’s the real deal to us until we can prove that it’s not,” Pittsburgh Police Commander Scott Schubert said.
The negotiators now go back to their regular jobs. One’s a commander, another is a motorcycle cop and the other is on bicycle patrol.