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Suspect in NH Standoff Wishes He'd Died

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BEVERLEY WANG | December 5, 2007 09:51 AM EST | AP

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DOVER, N.H. — The man accused of using a fake bomb to take hostages at a Hillary Rodham Clinton campaign office said in a jailhouse interview he wishes police had killed him during the standoff.

Leeland Eisenberg, 46, is being held on $500,000 bond, and a judge has ordered him to undergo a psychiatric evaluation.

"I wish I would've died, I really do. I regret the fact that I didn't because now my suffering continues," Eisenberg said in an interview Tuesday with The Associated Press.

Eisenberg is accused of taking six hostages at Clinton's storefront campaign office in Rochester on Friday, showing them road flares strapped to his body and claiming they were explosives. A mother and an infant were released quickly, the others later. Eisenberg's family and lawyer have said his actions were a desperate plea for help after he repeatedly sought mental health treatment and was rejected.

His plan was a suicide plot inspired by movies and voices in his head, Eisenberg said.

"I'd see things on TV and the voice would say, 'That's it. That's how you need to do it,'" said Eisenberg, who said he has bipolar disorder. "I remember a scene from a movie where a person had a bomb strapped to them and as soon as they came to the door the police blew them away."

He said he purposely wrapped the flares around his waist to give police a clear shot at his torso. But when the last hostage was released and Eisenberg walked out of the office after 5 1/2 hours, police arrested him without firing a shot.

In the more than 40-minute interview in a jail conference room, Eisenberg was articulate, speaking evenly and clearly. No guards were present, and he was not shackled or handcuffed.

Eisenberg said he was unemployed and uninsured, having recently lost his job at a local car dealership. In the days leading to the hostage taking, he said he was drinking heavily and trying desperately to get mental health treatment.

"I have regrets not so much for myself but for the four people that I traumatized, I do, I really do. There's nothing I could do to make amends for them. Saying sorry is just trivial," he said.

His temper flared however, when he was questioned hard about the trauma he caused the hostages and how his actions could have convinced Clinton to help him.

He answered by recounting his multiple failed efforts to get help.

"How do you think that traumatized me? Let me flip the script on you for a minute," he said. "I'm not a criminal. I'm sick in my mind."

Prosecutors have said Eisenberg has a long criminal record, including two rape convictions. At a court hearing this week, authorities said he was sentenced to 10 years for rape in Worcester, Mass., in 1985 but apparently escaped the next year and committed another rape. He was sentenced to 11 to 20 years for that offense.