PITTSBURGH -- An armed suicidal man who held a businessman hostage inside a downtown Pittsburgh office building for more than five hours Friday, posting Facebook updates during the standoff, surrendered to authorities without incident, police said.

Klein Michael Thaxton, 22, surrendered just before 2 p.m., and the man he took hostage was unhurt, Police Chief Nathan Harper said.

The hostage-taking on the 16th floor of Three Gateway Center prompted an evacuation while Thaxton wrote on Facebook that he had "lost everything" and that people didn't have to worry about him anymore.

His friends responded by urging him to end the situation peacefully, including one who asked him to think of his mother.

A police spokeswoman identified the hostage as Charles Breitsman, owner of CW Breitsman Associates. The firm runs employee-benefits programs, but it wasn't immediately clear why he was targeted.

"(Thaxton) is a sick young man and we do need to take measures to see he is taken care of as well," police spokeswoman Diane Richard said. "We don't know if he's related to this company. We don't know what the tie-in is he has with this individual."

She said Breitman was able to meet with his family afterward.


"He is doing OK at this point, a little shaken up," Richard said, adding he was taken to police headquarters so that he could talk about the incident.

Police asked Facebook to take down Thaxton's page early in the afternoon in hopes of steering all of his attention to negotiations.

The Facebook exchanges had the potential to both help and harm the negotiations, Harper said. It's helpful that Thaxton can see "that people are concerned about his well-being," Harper said, but "it is a distraction for negotiating."

A worker on the 16th floor described a woman running into her office yelling for someone to call 911. Kathi Dvorak, an administrative assistant at AXA Advisors, said a second woman ran in and said her office was being robbed.

Harper had described the hostage-taker as having a military background but didn't elaborate.

Thaxton has a criminal record that includes a guilty plea to robbery earlier this year and a minimum six-month jail sentence.

Joel Kirchartz, a 28-year-old web developer who works on the 17th floor, said he and his co-workers looked out the windows Friday morning and "a bunch of cops pulled up with all sorts of sirens going; there must have been 20 of them." He said he went downstairs to find out what was happening and by the time he got outside, police had sealed the building.

Another worker, Sarah Vereb, said she was at her desk when she was ordered to leave the building shortly after a friend called to report that she wasn't being allowed up from the lobby.

Hundreds of workers walked down the stairwell. Vereb said the exodus was orderly and "very, very quiet."

A phone message left for the building's Santa Monica, Calif.-based ownership group was not immediately returned. The building complex management office confirmed the evacuation and said it was working with police.

live blog

Oldest Newest

An armed man who took a hostage inside a downtown Pittsburgh office building has surrendered to police.

Police Chief Nate Harper says the suspect gave himself up after posting Facebook updates in the early hours of the standoff saying he had "lost everything." Harper says the hostage is OK.

Police identified the hostage-taker as Klein Michael Thaxton. Harper had said Thaxton had a military background and was suicidal.

The standoff began Friday morning inside the 16th-floor office of a benefits administration firm.

Harper says Thaxton was cooperative but made no demands.

Thaxton's friends had responded to his Facebook posts by urging him to end the situation peacefully, including one who asked him to think of his mother.

The Facebook page was later taken down.

Share this:

FROM WTOV: After more than a five-hour standoff at Pittsburgh's Gateway Center, a man surrendered peacefully just before 2 p.m. and released his hostage.

Share this:

It's unclear who shut it down and why, but Thaxton's Facebook page was shut down, so he won't be making any more posts from the scene. You can read some of his posts here.

Share this:

Negotiations between police and the suspect have surpassed five hours in downtown Pittsburgh.

Share this:
@ WPXIScott : .@WPXICara reporting Thaxton has internet connection/was watching LIVE streaming video. We have taken our video down at http://t.co/1gMYduPe

Share this:

One friend recently posted this message to him: "Boogie we love you, watevers qoin on you can qet throuqh this .. i love you cuzzo stay stronq"

Share this:

Media and those following the events unfold are attempting to "friend" the suspect on Facebook. Sending such a request, however, yields the following message: "Sorry this user already has too many friend requests."

Share this:

Note: WPXI-TV has made the decision to take down our livestream coverage of the hostage situation at Gateway Center. We will continue to update you on all of the latest developments and resume the livestream once there are no more safety concerns.

Share this:

Police Chief Nate Harper, speaking with reporters, discusses the Facebook communication between the suspect and other Facebook users. He says, "It is showing the people are concerned about his well being, it is beneficial."

Share this:

klein michael thaxton

People evacuated by Pittsburgh Police from the Gateway Three office building wait outside as the police negotiate with a man who claims to have a bomb in a suite in the sixteenth floor, in downtown Pittsburgh Friday, Sept. 21, 2012. A call about an armed man inside the building prompted the evacuation amid reports of a hostage situation. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

Share this:

Check out all of the latest information on who Klein Michael Thaxton is and what we know about his background by clicking here.

Share this:

Sources said the man pulled out the gun around 8:20 a.m. A security guard told Target 11 investigator Rick Earle that he overheard a female say, "Don’t come in here. You will get hurt." The guard said he then called police.

Share this:

Police believe that the hostage may be the owner of CW Breitsman Associates.

Share this:

Thaxton has posted another Facebook update as police attempt to talk him down. Take a look at the comments.

klein michael thaxton

Share this:

That's a quote from Pittsburgh Police Chief Nate Harper, according to CBS.

Share this:

CNN reports that the suspect's mother is on the scene and hoping to talk some sense into her son.

Share this:

klein michael thaxton

Share this:

Share this:

The suspect does have a criminal record, according to authorities. He also claims to have a gun, knife, and explosives, Chief Harper said.

Share this:

Police say that the suspect has no demands at this time.

Share this: