Phoenix Hostage Standoff Ends Peacefully
PHOENIX (AP) _ A man accused of holding nine people hostage at gunpoint inside a National Labor Relations Board office was in FBI custody early Friday, after a seven-hour standoff ended peacefully when he released his captives unharmed, police said.
The ordeal came to a close after police met three of the man’s demands, authorities said. Police said the suspect, 42-year-old George L. Curran of Chandler, asked to see his wife, requested a civil rights attorney and wanted the FBI present. He came out holding a gun to a female hostage’s head, authorities said, and surrendered after seeing his wife and sister.
Curran pulled a gun during a legal proceeding and took five men and four women hostage inside a hearing room in a National Labor Relations Board office on the building’s 18th floor, police said.
He was armed with a semiautomatic pistol, a revolver and a knife, they said.
Cornele Overstreet, an NLRB regional director who was not among those taken hostage, said Curran had filed a complaint with the agency about 18 months ago and his wife had filed one a few months ago. Both had been dismissed, he said.
Overstreet said Curran had been disgruntled and that the board agent who handled Curran’s case had felt threatened by Curran, who had made angry statements.
``The threat wasn’t, ‘I’m going to kill you or beat you up.’ The threat was the level of, ’You folks will get yours,‴ Overstreet said.
He said the statements had been reported to federal authorities but that no charges were filed.
On Thursday, Overstreet called 911 after an office manager told him the gunman grabbed another worker and dragged her into the hearing room with a gun in his hand about 3:30 p.m. MST.
Inside the hearing room, a judge was hearing a case involving the termination of two employees from an upscale women’s clothing store in suburban Scottsdale.
The hostages _ five men and four women _ included four federal employees: a court reporter, a judge, an attorney and a secretary.
The floors immediately above and below the hearing room were evacuated.
Hostages’ relatives and co-workers waited out the ordeal at a nearby restaurant.
One woman hostage was freed before Curran’s surrender and another female escaped down a stairwell after asking to go to the restroom, authorities said.
``I feel sorry for George. He’s a troubled person. He seemed to have some psychological problems,″ Jeff Berman, one of the hostages, told reporters after he was released.
Associated Press Writer Amanda Lee Myers contributed to this report.