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Police Chief: Hostage-Taker ‘Wanted Us to Kill Him’

February 20, 1986

NEW YORK (AP) _ An ex-convict who took two hostages and held authorities at bay for 9 1/2 hours before surrendering ″wanted us to kill him,″ an assistant police chief said.

″We had the impression all day long that he wanted us to shoot him. He actually alluded to that - that he wanted us to kill him. He did not want to go back to jail,″ said Assistant Chief Gerard J. Kerins.

The suspect, identified as Edward Hernandez, 24, released his unharmed hostages at intervals Wednesday evening and surrendered at 11:35 p.m. EST, at the H&R Block tax office where he had been fired as a receptionist the day before, police said.

The victims, office manager Phyllis Novick and her son, tax preparer Michael Novick, who had been sheltered elsewhere in the building by police after their release, left in a police van after the suspect was taken away.

″The company will have a statement tomorrow. No other comment,″ Michael Novick yelled as they left.

Shortly after the incident began at 1:56 p.m., Hernandez fired two shots in the office, said Lt. Thomas Fahey, a police spokesman on the scene. No one was hurt.

Phyllis Novick was released at 6:35 p.m., but her son was held hostage until 7:50 p.m., said Alice McGillion, a police spokeswoman.

She said the woman was released after police sent Hernandez a letter that said his parole would not be revoked because of the incident.

He refused to release the second hostage because the letter did not contain the word ″guarantee.″ Michael Novick was released after Hernandez received a revised letter and a sandwich from authorities.

But Hernandez remained inside the building through the evening, threatening to commit suicide as negotiators tried to talk him into coming outside. He handed over a gun and turned himself in to police at 11:35 p.m. The incident stalled rush-hour traffic as police closed off streets in midtown Manhattan.

Ms. McGillion said Hernandez was paroled last October after serving 13 months in Elmira state prison for armed robbery. She said he had been fired from a job as a receptionist for H&R Block after he allegedly stole $1,000. He was later rehired and was fired again on Tuesday, she said.

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