Man With Toy Gun Seizes Control of TV Newscast
BURBANK, Calif. (AP) _ A man with a history of mental illness seized control of a live newscast by pointing a realistic toy pistol at TV reporter David Horowitz and demanding he read a statement about the CIA and space creatures.
Gary Stollman, 34, of Tallahassee, Fla., was booked for investigation of false imprisonment and disturbing the peace after Wednesday’s brief takeover of KNBC-TV, said police Lt. Jay Farrand.
Horowitz and anchors Kirstie Wilde and John Beard were unharmed.
Stollman, taken to the jail ward at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center, was to undergo a mental evaluation, police Sgt. Joseph Latta said.
Almost as soon as Stollman appeared on camera at 4:42 p.m., toy gun in hand, news director Tom Capra ordered a blackout of Wednesday’s newscast.
Horowitz read the man’s statement during a nine-minute period in which KNBC broadcast a message asking its viewing audience to stand by.
″The reason we went to black is because we can’t let people with guns or weapons of any kind take the station hostage,″ Capra told reporters at a news conference.
The document Horowitz read was a rambling statement warning of a plot by the CIA and outer space ″alien forces″ against the U.S. government, and ″possibly the human race itself.″
Heather Burke was among scores of television viewers who called police and other news media to report what was happening.
″I’m sitting here watching TV, and I’m just freaking out,″ Ms. Burke said from her home in Hollywood. ″You could see the gun, it was black, it looked like a .357 Magnum.″
The intruder used a type of toy that Horowitz has complained about repeatedly on his nationally syndicated consumer show, ″Fight Back With David Horowitz.″
″The irony is that this guy did this with a toy gun and I had been telling parents for months not to get their kids replica toy guns,″ Horowitz said at a news conference.
With thousands of viewers watching, Horowitz maintained a calm demeanor as the man brandished the fake weapon. After Horowitz read the statement, the man told him: ″Thank you very much, David. I couldn’t hurt anyone with this BB gun.″
″The gun looked very real to me the whole nine minutes I was watching it,″ said Beard, who grabbed the replica when the intruder put it down after Horowitz finished reading the statement.
″I thought if he’s crazy enough to bring this in here, he’s crazy enough to shoot all of us even if we did read his message. He had his finger on the trigger the whole time,″ Beard added.
Max Stollman, who formerly reported about pharmacy matters for KNBC news, said the arrested man is his son. ″I do have a sick son. He has been hospitalized a number of times. I’m thankful he wasn’t killed,″ he said in a statement.
Capra said the station went off the air 28 seconds after the man appeared on the screen. The broadcast was resumed about 10 minutes later.
Horowitz recounted for viewers what had occurred. He said he was preparing to deliver his report when a man he had noticed in the studio came up behind him.
″He said, ’I’ve got a gun at your back and I’m going to kill you unless you read this statement,‴ Horowitz said.
Ms. Wilde told viewers that Stollman was allowed into the studio because his father had worked for the station. Stollman, who was not searched, had said he wanted to watch the program.