“Accolades go to all the officers involved,” Harper said after negotiators resolved the crisis that tied up transportation in downtown Pittsburgh, adding that it was “a very happy resolution.”
Pittsburgh police identified the suspect as Klein Michael Thaxton, 22, a former military member with a criminal record. Thaxton was a U.S. Army private from December 2008 through June 2010, but was never deployed, according to a release the Army sent CNN.
“He’ll be taken to headquarters, he’ll be interviewed, and from there, we’ll see where he has to go,” the chief said.
Police received calls shortly after 8:15 a.m., reporting a man with a gun on the 16th floor of Gateway Center Building No. 3. Some witnesses reported he was carrying two duffel bags. Harper said the suspect initially claimed to have a bomb, but later admitted he had no explosives.
The suspect walked into CW Breitsman Associates and asked for a particular man, so police believe the male hostage was targeted, Harper said. CW Breitsman handles money for pension funds. The chief said the gunman never worked there, and it’s unclear how he was related to the company.
After the situation ended, police said the hostage had been Charles Breitsman.
In addition to police negotiators, some of Thaxton’s family members, including his mother, who was at the scene, spoke to Thaxton during the ordeal, Harper said.
Several people who work in Building No. 3 told local television stations that police had evacuated them from the building. Harper said since the incident was contained to one room of a suite on the 16th floor, evacuations were minimal, and people still occupied other parts of the skyscraper.
Jim Garra, who works at AXA on the 16th floor, told CNN affiliate WTAE that when he arrived at work around 8:10 a.m., security officers were milling about. When he took the elevator to his office, he found a commotion, including a woman he described as “hysterical, on the phone,” describing an intruder in the building. Garra said he locked the door to his office until police came to evacuate it.
Public transportation was shut down at Gateway Center, and police blocked off nearby roads as well.
CNN’s Chuck Johnston contributed to this report.