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Boys Tell Of Their Hostage Ordeal

December 11, 1985

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ After being cooped up in a room with an armed captor for seven hours, 17- year-old Mike Wissman decided to ″go for it″ because he could no longer stand the man’s demands for cocaine and President Reagan’s resignation.

First, though, Wissman noticed a blockage in the barrel of the gun that police say 22-year-old Steven Gold used to take six hostages Monday at Archbishop Ryan High School for Boys.

″It was just an impulse,″ Wissman said Tuesday. ″We were in there for like seven hours. I was just getting fed up with it. Then I realized ... this guy just had a toy. And we decided, you know, go for it - so we did.″

After an exchange of winks, nods and signals, Wissman and the two remaining teen-age hostages jumped their captor, wrestling away a 5-inch knife and what turned out to be a tear-gas gun.

Gold, an outpatient at a community mental health center, was held today in lieu of $1 million bail on charges of kidnapping, assault, possession of an instrument of crime and felonious assault.

Wissman and the other two hostages - Patrick Hood, 15, and Ray Smith, 16 - said Gold seemed unsteady near the end of the ordeal at the Roman Catholic school.

He seemed to crave the cocaine he had demanded repeatedly from police, and was shaken after a police negotiator tried to speak with him while deliverying food to the room, the students said.

″You could see him shaking every time he tried to light a cigarette,″ Hood said. ″He was burned out.″

Gold was sitting on the floor when the three lunged, the students said. Wissman grabbed Gold’s right hand and when the gun fell loose, Hood took it and ran into a hall, calling for police.

Wissman said he hit Gold ″as hard as I could″ with his elbow and tore the knife from his shirt pocket.

Another student taken hostage escaped when he was allowed to leave to get a soda shortly after Gold entered the school and pulled a gun, police said.

Gold released two school administrators after a police negotiator agreed to allow a radio station to broadcast a statement demanding Reagan’s resignation to allow Gold to take the president’s place.

Had Gold fired the loaded pistol, it would have released enough tear gas powder ″to maybe irritate somebody’s eyes″ but could not have fired bullets, police Capt. Thomas Seamon said.

Hood said he noticed something ″black inside the barrel″ of Gold’s gun that made him suspicious, because he had been taught to shoot by his father, a Philadelphia police officer.

Hood told Smith and the two signaled Wissman, who after concluding the gun wasn’t real tried to spell out ″toy″ with his hands, he said.

Wissman’s mother, Margaret, 54, said that when she was reunited with her son, ″I cried, and I said, ’Now it’s Christmas.‴

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